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Drug order for man after police officer injured by used needle in Inverness charity shop

By Court Reporter

Inverness Sheriff Court.
Inverness Sheriff Court.

A man who carried a bag containing used hypodermic needles has been placed on a drug treatment testing order.

Inverness Sheriff Court had heard a police officer faced six months of treatment and medical checks after injuring himself on one of the needles.

Police were called to a charity shop in Nelson Street, Inverness in April last year when a man was found unresponsive in a toilet there.

An ambulance was called to the scene but by the time it arrived, Zen Etchells was conscious and became irate at the paramedics’ presence.

Depute fiscal Fiona Murray said police found used needles on the toilet floor and were concerned Etchells had overdosed.

Police also recovered a backpack containing up to 30 used hypodermic needles at the scene and one of these pierced an officer’s skin.

He had to be treated at Raigmore Hospital to reduce the risk of him contracting HIV, with treatment over a six-month period leaving him suffering physical side-effects.

No blood-borne viruses have been identified but the incident had an impact on the officer’s emotional and mental health.

Etchells (25) of Vulcan Cottage, Muir of Ord, admitted culpable and reckless conduct on April 15 last year by carrying the backpack with uncapped needles exposed.

He also admitted resisting arrest and pleaded guilty to a separate offence dating from June 25 last year where he failed to register a change of address with police as required under the Sex Offenders’ Act 2003.

Solicitor Duncan Henderson said: "He has a record which does him no credit and is consistent with someone who struggles with drugs."

Sheriff Sara Matheson placed him on a drug treatment testing order for 18 months and fined him £100.

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