Joppa Park knife thug dodges jail despite crackdown

Charles Boyle was attacked by Turnbull. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Charles Boyle was attacked by Turnbull. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A THUG who slashed a man, leaving him permanently disfigured has escaped jail – despite the government’s pledge to get tough on knife crime.

Ross Turnbull, 24, repeatedly struck 61-year-old Charles Boyle on the face with a knife in Joppa Park in September last year.

Charles Boyle confronted hooligan Ross Turnbull. Picture: contributed

Charles Boyle confronted hooligan Ross Turnbull. Picture: contributed

Mr Boyle, who required 14 stitches, was left scarred as a result of the attack.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, Turnbull, of Inglis Avenue in Port Seton, was sentenced to a 12-month community payback order (CPO) under supervision.

Turnbull, who also pled guilty previously to wilfully destroying the wing mirror of Mr Boyle’s van, will have to perform 150 hours of unpaid work and a six-month restriction of liberty order will see him confined to his home between 10pm and 6am.

The Scottish Conservatives hit out at the sentencing and claimed the SNP’s pledge to get tough on knife crime has “gone out of the window”.

The court heard that Mr Boyle had chased after Turnbull after he discovered his van had been damaged. Mr Boyle caught him, grabbed him by the throat and attempted to hit him, but Turnbull slashed him with the knife.

Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “Folks who use knives, their feet should not touch the ground.”

He added that it was obvious Turnbull, whose record did not include the use of weapons, had underlying difficulties and it would have been appropriate to send him to prison for a couple of years.

However, he said that if he sent Turnbull to prison it was possible he would be released on a tag in a shorter time than the CPO was in operation.

Mr Boyle, from Newcraighall, leapt from his seat and had to be led from the court by a police officer on hearing the sentence, shouting “This is not justice. This is a disgrace.”

The roofer, who had to take three months off work following the attack, said: “I’m just disgusted by this sentence – it’s an absolute joke.”

He added: “The worst thing hasn’t been the scar to my face. My 24-year-old son Jamie is disabled, he suffers from cerebral palsy and brain damage. He was in the car when it happened and was really upset – my wife wanted to move home after it happened because she was frightened.”

In November last year, the Scottish Government announced plans to increase the maximum penalty for carrying a knife from four years to five.

The No Knives, Better Lives initiative was launched in 2009 in an attempt to educate young people on the dangers of carrying blades.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said not enough was being done.

He said: “The SNP has vowed on numerous occasions to get tough on knife crime – if this case is anything to go by, that pledge has clearly gone out the window.

“The message this sends out to people minded towards this type of behaviour is clear – do what you want and there’s a good chance the courts won’t come down hard on you.

“Worst of all this is a real insult to a man who will be reminded of this horror every time he looks in the mirror.”

• Aimed at educating young people about the dangers of carrying knives, the Scottish Government’s No Knives, Better Lives was launched in 2009.

It uses tactics such as hard-hitting talks in schools, targeted advertising in areas where young people are known to congregate, diversionary activities and youth work interventions to drive home its message.

In one initiative, anti-knife messages were beamed on to the mobile phones owned of young people.

The Government claims the programme has led to significant reductions in knife carrying. But the most common form of homicide over the past decade remains with a sharp instrument – accounting for 47 murders in 2011-12, more than half the total.