A violent Aberdeen hotel guest who caused more than £20,000 of damage when he set fire to his room and then attacked a visitor and staff member has avoided jail.
Despite the chaos at Leonardo Hotel in Dyce, a sheriff spared Terence Urquhart from a prison sentence so he could overcome his alcohol addiction and support his family.
The 35-year-old started the blaze when he “accidentally” discarded a lit cigarette in a wastepaper bin.
But as people were evacuated to the car park, Urquhart walked up to a fellow guest and punched him in the face, before spitting on him.
Then he tried to place one hotel staff member in a headlock when he refused to let Urquhart back into his fire-damaged room.
Terence Urquhart attacked hotel staff member and guest after fire started
The flames, which melted light switches and a smoke alarm, caused £20,421 worth of damage, Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told.
Fiscal depute Jane Spark said around 7pm on December 29 2021, a hotel worker saw Urquhart wandering the hallways with a bottle of Buckfast wine in his hand and “maneuvered” him back to room 136.
Around 9.30pm, two hotel employees visited the same room after noise complaints from other guests and they noticed that the silent smoke alarm had been activated.
They heard a series of bangs and saw smoke emanating from the top of the door.
Guests were then evacuated and the fire service was called.
As a couple stood in the car park evacuation area, Urquhart walked up to a man and punched his face without warning, causing the man to collapse on the ground.
Urquhart also spat on the victim, the court heard.
Then he approached a member of staff who was carrying out fire evacuation duties and demanded to be let back into his room.
When the man refused, Urquhart grabbed his neck and attempted to put him into a headlock, and the pair then fell to the ground.
Other hotel colleagues came to the man’s aid and helped to free him from Urquhart’s clutches.
During the struggle, the victim suffered superficial marks and cuts to his knees.
Urquhart’s careless act left Dyce hotel with hefty fire damage repair bill
When firefighters entered room 136 of the hotel, they discovered a fire-damaged bin was the source of the fire.
It contained burned paper inside and a melted glass bottle.
There was also a hole in the carpet around the bin and the room had experienced extensive smoke damage, with burn marks on the wall and ceiling among melted light switches and a smoke alarm.
It was estimated that the fire had been burning for an hour.
Urquhart later admitted that he had “accidentally placed a lit cigarette in the bin”.
As he was arrested and taken to Kittybrewster police station, Urquhart said he had “woke up, saw the fire in my room and tried getting out of my window”.
Appearing in the dock, Urquhart pled guilty to one charge of culpable and reckless conduct.
He also admitted to one charge of assault and another of assault to injury.
Aberdeen court comes close to jailing alcoholic Terence Urquhart
His defence solicitor Liam Mcallister described his client’s actions on the night in question as “abhorrent and shameful”.
The lawyer added: “Mr Urquhart has always accepted it, despite having no recollection of the incident. He wants to battle his alcoholism and he knows this just can’t go on.
“It’s his hope that the court will rightly punish him today, but allow him to support his family who are supporting him through this.”
As an alternative to a prison sentence, Sheriff Ian Wallace sentenced Urquhart, of Westford, Alness, to a community payback order with supervision for two years.
He also ordered Urquhart to carry out 195 hours of unpaid work and take part in a mental health programme.
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