Two men who dropped a sofa on a woman in Aberdeen and left her with horrific injuries have avoided jail – but have been ordered to pay £15,000 compensation.
Edita Butkeviciute – who broke her spine when the settee landed on her – said she was pleased offshore worker Barrie Law, 27, and Lee Morrison, 33, weren’t jailed for their “stupid” actions.
They pled guilty to a reduced charge of culpably and recklessly dropping a sofa from a rooftop at Nailco Nail Bar on 409 Union Street.
Ms Butkeviciute was on a break from her work and had taken some rubbish out to the bins in the rear car park of the premises.
She was speaking on the phone to her boyfriend when the three-piece sofa fell on top of her.
The force of the blow knocked her out and she suffered multiple broken bones, including a fractured spine, broken thigh and broken ankle.
‘I don’t want them to sit in jail’
In a statement released through Digby Brown Solicitors on Monday, Edita, 31, said: “What happened damaged me and has affected me for life but I don’t want those men to sit in jail.
“It was a stupid thing they did – they know that and they have to live with that.”
She added: “But other people in the community have attacked them or isolated them and that is wrong so I don’t want to do anything to make matters worse.
“I just want to focus on my recovery in private and move on with my life the best way I can.”
She had previously revealed she still “cannot sit straight” for long periods of time due to metal plates in her spine.
Ms Butkeviciute has also been left unable to work.
‘She was aware of waking up screaming’
Fiscal depute Colin Neilson told the court Morrison was helping Law move a sofa from his flat.
He said: “They couldn’t get it out the flat door and down the stairwell, so they pushed the sofa through the living room window onto a flat roof outside.
“From there they dragged it across the roof. They looked over the edge to check it was clear, then pushed the sofa over the edge into the car park.
“They intended to load it into a van from there. The drop was around five metres.”
Mr Neilson went on to tell the court that after being struck Ms Butkeviciute didn’t know what had happened, and was only aware of “waking up screaming, unable to move.”
He added: “The sofa was around one metre away from her. Various people attended to her and called for an ambulance which attended quickly, as did the police.”
‘It will haunt him for rest of his life’
During the sentencing hearing Law’s defence solicitor, George Mathers, told the court: “He describes the incident as a reckless decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
“There was no intention, at all, of injuring anybody.”
Mr Mathers said his client was “shaken to the core” when he realised what they had done.
The defence lawyer added: “His nerves were just shot. He just feels so guilt-ridden about what he has done.”
Debbie Ginniver, for Morrison, said: “They did check before the sofa was dropped; however, he accepts there were multiple other things they could have done to prevent anyone being hit by the sofa.
“He didn’t intend for anyone to be hurt; however, the complainer did suffer very serious injuries because of his actions and he feels dreadful about that.”
‘He can’t comprehend how foolish he was’
She added: “The best way I can describe this is it was a catastrophic error of judgement on his part.
“He can’t quite comprehend how foolish he was.”
Both men were ordered by Sheriff William Summers to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and placed under supervision for 18 months.
The sentence was handed out as an alternative to custody.
Law, whose address was given in court papers as Union Street, Aberdeen, was ordered to pay £12,000 in compensation and Morrison, whose address was given as Davidson Drive, Aberdeen, £3,000.
Sheriff Summers told the pair: “The charge to which you have pled guilty is a very serious charge.
“It’s libelled as culpable and reckless conduct and it’s hard to imagine anything more culpable and reckless than dropping a sofa from a flat roof at a height of some five metres.
“The consequences were entirely predictable and should have been foreseen by the two of you.”
‘What you did was inexcusable’
He said: “The complainer’s injuries are life-changing. She is fortunate not to have been more seriously injured and the two of you are fortunate not to be facing more serious charges.”
Sheriff Summers accepted the pair had checked that nobody was standing underneath the roof beforehand, but added: “Clearly any check was inadequate or did not take account of someone emerging from the property.
“You simply should not have done this and your actions are inexcusable.”