Knife thug facing life sentence over attacks

The High Court in Edinburgh heard James Ferguson used a knife and screwdriver during the assaults he committed.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard James Ferguson used a knife and screwdriver during the assaults he committed.
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A thug who carried out a string of attacks within weeks in East Lothian was warned he could face a life sentence today.

James Ferguson used a knife and screwdriver during assaults he committed.

Ferguson, 29, a prisoner, earlier admitted committing the crimes and was today told by a judge that he was calling for a full risk assessment to be carried out on him which can result in an Order for Lifelong Restriction being imposed.

Lord Uist said that taking into account the violent offences, his criminal record and a background report prepared on him he considered that the risk criteria may be met.

Ferguson, of Tranent, attacked Dean Harvey with a screwdriver at a bus stop near the Wallyford Miners’ Club in the early hours of June 2 last year.

Ferguson ran towards the victim and began punching him and struck him on the back before Mr Harvey was able to run off.

Advocate depute Martin Macari earlier told the High Court in Edinburgh that as he did so he saw that Ferguson had “a silver object” in his hand.

Ferguson later revealed that he had stabbed his victim with a screwdriver. Mr Harvey was taken to hospital after struggling for breath and was found to have five superficial wounds, but was able to be discharged.

Eleven days after the attack Ferguson chased Mr Harvey and William McKay in Tranent armed with a knife. Mr McKay was hit on the hand after Ferguson swiped at him with the weapon but suffered “a scratch”.

On June 25 Ferguson approached Lewis Sives, who had been at school with him, but as they entered St Martin’s Lane, in Tranent, he took out what appeared to be a Stanley knife and began shouting at him.

A struggle broke out and Ferguson repeatedly tried to strike him on the body. A witness saw Ferguson in possession of a knife and heard Mr Sives shouting: “Don’t stab me, don’t f---ing stab me.”

She shouted on them to stop and Ferguson fled.

On July 5 Ferguson put a large knife against a woman’s head and threatened her, including using words like: “I swear on my wee boy’s life I’m going to cut you up.”

He took a mobile phone and house keys from the victim, Claire McAulay, and went to her home and got her bank card and prescription tablets.

Ms McAulay had originally been at home when Ferguson turned up at her house with Yvonne Mackie who suggested she go to her home in Coalgate Avenue, Tranent, to pick up some money owed by her sister.

But at Mackie’s house the incident turned violent with Ms McAulay being repeatedly punched on the head and body by the other woman before Ferguson produced the knife.

Ferguson had previously admitted the assaults and Mackie, 43, had also pled guilty to the attack on Ms McAulay.

Lord Uist told Mackie: “She was a woman whom you had invited to your home and while she was there you assaulted her. I am told you punched her to the face and body 20 to 30 times and caused her nose to bleed.”

The judge said: “This was quite disgraceful behaviour on your part.”

Lord Uist said he noted that although Mackie had previous convictions none were for violence and placed her on a community payback order, including a requirement to carry out 75 hours unpaid work.

John Keenan, defence solicitor advocate for Mackie, said: “It is conduct that is entirely out of character for her.”