View Full Version : Oil worker underwent personality change after attack

15-Sep-14, 18:10
Father-of-five fears going out in case a similar assault occurs he tells jury on opening day of trial
AN Aberdeen oil worker today spoke of the personality change he underwent following an early morning attack at a Wick nightclub that left him badly injured in a pool of blood.
Father-of- five Paul Aitchison told a court that the incident, of which he remembered nothing, had had an adverse effect on him, both physically and mentally and he had he had a paranoid fear of going out in case he was assaulted again.
The nightclub incident happened after Mr Aitchison and some of his work colleagues went out in Wick on August 24, last year and ended up at the Waterfront Nightclub. Their helicopter taking them home to Aberdeen was grounded at Wick airport following at chopper incident in Shetland and most of the 15-strong workforce decided to stay overnight in the town.
They visited three bars, a jury at Wick Sheriff Court heard but Mr Aitchison told the court that his memory was “a total blank” after leaving the last one, where a karaoke was in progress and he remembered nothing more, until he was in an air ambulance taking him to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the following day.
In the dock is Craig Johnstone, 32, who denies on indictment, having assaulted Mr Aitchison. The 32-year-old, accused, of 10 Coghill Street, Wick, is alleged to have repeatedly pushed Mr Aitchison, causing him to fall and hit his head on the floor and lose consciousness, to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement and impairment.
Evidence agreed by the prosecution and defence revealed how local paramedic, Alan McGee, called to the nightclub’s Silver Darlings bar, found Mr Aitchison lying face down in a pool of blood on the stone floor.
He was treated, initially at Caithness General Hospital where a coma scale of 10 was diagnosed – the maximum is 15. Nursing sister Donna Sinclair noted slight swelling and a graze to the back of Mr Aitchison’s head and fresh bleeding from his right ear. She added that he was “too confused” to give any idea of how he had come by his injuries.
Johnstone was said to have had no recollection of an incident. He told police in an interview that he had been drinking in four bars in the town, ending up at the Silver Darlings. The accused said that he remembered ordering 'Jagerbombs' at the bar and being detained by officers the following day and reckoned his total alcohol consumption that night would have been “six or seven pints of lager and a few shots”.
Mr Aitchison told the jury and Sheriff Andrew Berry that he spent three weeks in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where he was treated for a serious injury to the front of his head. He wasn’t able to return to work until April 4, the following year and, initially, on a part-time basis and had only recently returned to working full shifts.
Turning to the emotional effect on him since the assault, Mr Aitchison told David Barclay, prosecuting, that his behaviour had “totally changed”. He said he was “abrupt and snappy”, his sleep patterns were “up and down” and he found interacting in groups, especially hard.
Mr Aitchison added: “ One-to-one is not too bad but in groups I find myself paranoid. I used to be active but now find myself out of breath and regularly have sore heads.” He also suffers from Bells Palsy, a nerve condition which results in the right hand side of his face sinking in, which requires regular exercises.
The oil worker continued: “I find it hard to communicate , especially with my family, something I am having to work on to get my life back on track, to the way it was. I don’t go out socialising...I have a fear of it (the assault) happening to me again.”
Mr Aitchison also said that the incident had also had an adverse effect on his career, through potential promotion and loss of overtime, to the extent that he was “having to start all over, again”.
Michael Burnett, for Johnstone, suggested that the alleged assault had, in fact, been “a freak accident” and that the court would hear evidence of Mr Aitchison falling to the floor of the bar.
The court, said the solicitor, would also hear evidence that Mr Aitchison’s blood-alcohol level was 234mgs three times the legal drinks driving limit of 80mgs.
Mr Aitchison reiterated that he had no recollection of the assault and that he was not a heavy drinker and would probably had three or four pints in total, on the night in question. He had earlier told the court that he was conscious of the fact that had to rise later that morning to catch an early train south.
Local engineer Thomas Fraser, 22, told the court that he thought he saw Johnstone push Mr Aitchison but was more concerned about the latter after he landed on the floor.
Mr Fraser rendered first aid until the paramedic arrived. The trial continues.