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INVERNESS SHERIFF COURT: Fortrose man caught shoplifting in Inverness given community payback order

By Ali Morrison

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The Inverness Justice Centre locator..Court...Picture: Gary Anthony..
The Inverness Justice Centre locator..Court...Picture: Gary Anthony..

A FORTROSE man who was living a chaotic lifestyle during the pandemic has narrowly avoided being locked up for a string of offences.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard that at one point Zen Etchells (27) even tried to jump in the River Ness to avoid being caught with stolen alcohol.

He had previously admitted two shoplifting incidents including stealing more than £100 worth of good from Marks and Spencer in the Highland capital’s city centre.

He also admitted assaulting a doorman outside The Gunsmiths Bar on July 16 this year.

Fiscal depute Emma MacEwan said: “It was about 6.30pm and the victim was working as door staff at Gunsmiths.

“He was pushed from behind and the accused became aggressive and got up in his face.

“The accused clenched his fist and said ‘I will get you’.”

Etchells, of Station Road, then repeatedly tried to punch the bouncer before police were called.

Several months earlier he went on a shoplifting spree, the court heard.

He was seen on April 13 in Marks and Spencer at the Eastgate with a large quantity of food and drink worth nearly £130.

Staff became concerned if he was going to pay for it and approached him.

He tried unsuccessfully to use a bank card three times at the till before running out the men’s clothing department entrance with his haul of goods.

However, during his hasty exit he dropped a prescription bottle which had his name on it.

Five days later on April 18, he was caught by staff at the Church Street branch of the Co-op stuffing five bottles of rum into a plastic bag.

Deference solicitor Duncan Henderson said his client had previously had a drug problem and was coping with alcohol more recently.

Mr Henderson added: “Matters have deteriorated since Covid.”

Sheriff Sara Matheson imposed a community payback order as a direct alternative to jail.

He is to undertake an alcohol treatment programme and will be under supervision for 18 months.

When asked by the sheriff if he would comply, Etchells replied: “100 per cent.”

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