‘Slap on the wrist’ for student in assault case

Toni Cruickshank, 17, who was shown mercy by sheriff after hearing an assault conviction would wreck her chosen carer. Pic: 'Vic Rodrick
Toni Cruickshank, 17, who was shown mercy by sheriff after hearing an assault conviction would wreck her chosen carer. Pic: 'Vic Rodrick
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A Sheriff took pity on a teenage student whose chosen career would have been ruined by an assault conviction.

Toni Cruickshank, 17, was given a rare “absolute discharge” despite admitting attacking Melanie Fraser, 35, outside her own home in East Calder.

Sheriff Peter Hammond’s decision at Livingston Sheriff Court means Cruickshank – who is three weeks from completing a college course in childcare – will have no criminal record to disclose to potential employers.

Sheriff Hammond told the first offender: “I’m told that a punishment by the court would close the door on your career so, with some hesitation, I’m persuaded that that would be a disproportionate outcome in this case.”

Ms Fraser said she had been living in fear since the late-night attack last month and has been unable to leave the house alone.

She said drunk Cruickshank – and a number of others – targeted her because she had stood up for her daughter, Tamara, 18, who was being bullied.

Ms Fraser, who has four children, said: “She [Cruickshank] came into the garden at about 11.50pm and started throwing pebbles from the garden at the windows – it was like a machine gun hitting the windows constantly.

“It was quite scary – I did not know what was happening so I opened the door but I should have kept it shut.

“She was just giving me a whole load of abuse and came over and grabbed me by the head and snapped all my hair – I had bumps and lumps.”

At court yesterday, Cruickshank, from Blackburn, admitted going to the family’s house on April 20 and assaulting Ms Fraser, but the teenager claimed her victim was the mother of a pupil at her old school who had bullied her.

Her defence lawyer, Iain Smith, told the court that his client had come off worst in the incident, suffering scratches and bruises on her face and body.

Mr Smith said: “She’d been drinking to excess and hadn’t been thinking properly, otherwise she wouldn’t have behaved in that way.

“Such behaviour wouldn’t be accepted in any working environment and in particular working with children. She very much regrets what

happened.”

Ms Fraser said her partner, Michael Halliday, 38, was hurt in the incident and that Cruickshank should have been punished by the court.

She said: “I’m quite angry she’s gotten off because I could not trust someone like that with my children. I won’t go out at night on my own, and if I go down the shop I have got to have someone with me.

“To let her off just sounds totally unfair which makes me think she will do it again. I’m definitely concerned – what parent is going to have their children in her care?”

Sheriff Hammond also told Cruickshank: “You should consider yourself very lucky and take this as a warning. You won’t be so fortunate if there’s a next time.”