Edinburgh Evening News
By RORY REYNOLDS and VIC RODRICK
A TERRIFIED teenage girl has been fined £500 for knocking unconscious a masked stranger who stalked her home from a nightclub in what lawyers have called an “exceptional” case.
Claire Burleigh, 19, was pounced on by Sean Docherty, 43, as she was about to open the door of her Bathgate home, Livingston Sheriff Court heard yesterday.
Docherty had earlier been thrown out of the nightclub following a drunken argument.
Burleigh, who was with her boyfriend Christopher Twaddle, 21, ripped off Docherty’s black, paramilitary-style balaclava and defended herself.
However, she went too far by continuing to kick her attacker on the head even after he was knocked unconscious.
Burleigh appeared for sentence on a serious assault charge yesterday. She earlier admitted kicking Sean Docherty to his severe injury on August 21 last year.
The court heard from her defence lawyer, Alan Jackson, that she was confronted with a “nightmare scenario for a young girl going home”.
Although Docherty, who had downed at least nine pints of beer, was the initial aggressor, his client had ended up being charged, Mr Jackson said.
After Docherty was thrown out of the Bathgate nightclub he returned at 2am to wait for Burleigh to leave, then followed her and her boyfriend home.
Prosecutor Sarah O’Gallagher said Docherty admitted being the initial aggressor. But she added: “Neighbours saw the accused being extremely violent and kicking the complainer as he lay on the ground.
Police later found Docherty in a nearby street with severe facial injuries and called an ambulance to take him to hospital. They also recovered a balaclava from the scene of the assault.
Mr Jackson said that his client had been frightened by the incident and was crying as she defended herself.
He told the court: “It might be suggested that this was a nightmare scenario for a young girl going home. He made no comment and there was no confrontation – it was a physical attack on her.
“She turned round and found that there was a man wearing a black balaclava attacking her.
“She was terrified. She lost control and her anger and fear took over.”
Sheriff Donald Muirhead told Burleigh she was entitled to hit Docherty to protect herself. But he added: “You lost control. You kept on kicking him when there was no longer any need. In all the circumstances, it seems to me that I can deal with the matter by way of a financial penalty.”
No charges were brought against Docherty.