Man who sexually assaulted 'almost comatose' diabetic woman jailed

Ellis Birnie, 27, preyed on the woman during a series of assaults on Shetland.

Ellis Birnie convicted of sexually assaulting two women, including diabetic, at homes in Shetland iStock

A man who sexually assaulted a woman who was “almost comatose” in a diabetic episode has been jailed for three years and three months. 

Ellis Birnie preyed on the woman during a series of assaults on victims on Shetland. 

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the 27-year-old assaulted the woman during an outing.

The victim said that at the time she was “very, very deeply asleep, almost comatose” as her blood sugars were high.

She told the court: “I was completely sparked out. I woke up at one point to find his hand inside my trousers.”. 

“I had come to enough to realise stuff was going on, but I was not fully alert,” the woman said in pre-recorded evidence played to a jury at Birnie’s trial.

Birnie was also found guilty of sexually assaulting a second woman on Shetland between February 1 and August 24 in 2020, who he molested when she was asleep or intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

He was originally accused of raping the woman but that allegation was deleted from the charge by the jury in its guilty verdict. 

On Friday, judge Lord Richardson told Birnie that the only option available to him was to send him to prison. 

He also ordered him to be supervised by the authorities for 18 months following his release from custody. 

Passing sentence, Lord Richardson said: “You have been convicted of the sexual assaults of two women who were clearly vulnerable at the time of the attacks. 

“You took advantage of these women and violated both of them.

“Each of these women had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence against you. 

“They are to be commended for coming forward and doing this. 

“The only sentence available in this case is a custodial disposal.”

The first woman targeted by Birnie said the incident occurred in October 2018 but told the court that Birnie had previously assaulted her at his home in Sandveien, Lerwick, in Shetland.

She said in September that year, Birnie had shown her round at the address, including going into a bedroom.

The woman said she was pinned down and could not get up and Birnie carried out sex acts. 

She was asked if he was saying anything and she replied: “Just really gross sexual stuff I didn’t want to hear.”  

Birnie had denied a string of charges during his trial but was convicted of three offences on majority verdicts by the jury. 

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting his first victim on various occasions between September 12 and December 3 in 2018 at the address at Sandveien and other locations in Shetland.

During assaults he touched her inappropriately and carried out penetrative acts, including on one occasion when she was incapable of giving or withholding consent.

Birnie was also convicted of engaging in abusive behaviour towards the second woman in 2020.

The trial judge, Lord Richardson, deferred sentence on Birnie after a hearing last month for the court to obtain reports on his background. 

On Friday, defence solicitor advocate Tommy Allan said his client was “vulnerable” and suffered from poor health. 

Lord Richardson urged Birnie, who observed proceedings via video link from prison, to rehabilitate himself. 

He added: “I urge you to take advantage of all the opportunities and supervision that will be offered to you.”

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