Life sentence after string of knife attacks

The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Henry
The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Henry
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A man who carried out a string of attacks in East Lothian following his release was prison was given a life sentence today.

James Ferguson used a knife and screwdriver during a crime spree.

A judge imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Ferguson after telling him: “I am satisfied you are a violent and dangerous man.”

Lord Uist told the offender that an OLR constituted “a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period”.

The judge ruled at the High Court in Edinburgh that Ferguson, 30, must serve a minimum period in jail of two years and three months.

But he added: “It does not automatically follow you will be released at the end of the punishment part of the sentence.”

He told Ferguson, formerly of Tranent, East Lothian, that he would only be freed when the Parole Board decided it was no longer necessary for the safety of the public that he continue to be held in prison.

The judge pointed out that a social worker had said he posed a high risk of re-offending.

Lord Uist said: “You have abused drugs and committed crimes in order to obtain money for drugs.”

Ferguson earlier admitted his latest string of offences which led to a full risk assessment being carried out on him.

He attacked Dean Harvey with a screwdriver at a bus stop near the Wallyford Miners’ Club in the early hours of June 2.

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 court that as he did so he saw that Ferguson had “a silver object” in his hand.

The victim was taken to hospital but was found to have superficial wounds.

Ferguson later 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.

On June 25 he 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 the knife and heard Mr Sives shouting: “Don’t stab me.” She shouted at them to stop and Ferguson fled.

On July 5 he put a large knife to 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.