Tayport man convicted of random knife attack on woman

High Court in Edinburgh
High Court in Edinburgh

A Tayport man who had only recently been released from prison, stabbed a woman in a random knife attack after telling a pub customer he was “just out, but not for long”.

Robbie Lowther (23) attacked his lone victim after she had separated from a friend and wounded her in the stomach leaving her with an injury to her liver.

He had spoken to the target for his attack, Morbheinn McTavish, outside a pub earlier in the evening and told her he was just out of jail.

Lowther, of Cross Street, admitted assaulting her to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of her life on January 2 this year at the town’s Craig Road by striking her with a knife.

A judge told him at the High Court in Edinburgh that he found the circumstances of the crime “extremely disturbing”.

Lord Uist said: “You are a man with two previous convictions for carrying a knife or bladed weapon. You were in possession of a knife or bladed weapon on the night in question.”

“You used it to stab a woman who was a complete stranger to you for no apparent reason,” said the judge.

Advocate depute Jim Keegan QC said it could be seen from a victim impact statement that the attack has had “a substantial adverse effect on her active life”.

The victim had gone for a drink with a friend to the Tayport Arms and met up with others. Lowther was also in the bar.

The prosecutor said: “The accused remarked to another customer in the bar that he “was just out, but not for long”. That person took the remark to mean that he was just out of jail.”

Lowther had been freed from his last prison sentence a fortnight earlier.

Ms McTavish and her friend decided to leave the bar about midnight, but as they walked through streets in Tayport her friend realised she had forgotten her jacket and decided to return to the pub to get it.

The women were chatting when Lowther appeared and asked the time, before continuing on.

Mr Keegan said the victim’s friend told her she was not leaving until he was out of sight as she thought he was “weird”.

“After some minutes had passed and the accused was well out of sight the two women parted company and went on their separate ways,” said the advocate depute.

The friend started off towards the pub but at one point she looked back and saw that Lowther had reappeared.

She shouted to Ms McTavish so that Lowther would be aware that she had seen him.

Ms McTavish continued walking along Craig Road and heard a male voice say: “Excuse me, have you got the time?”

She turned to face Lowther and told him she did not. She turned away to cross the road when she felt sudden pain and saw an arm over her left shoulder. Lowther then ran off.

Mr Keegan said: “It appears that the victim was selected at random by the accused and stabbed by him. He attacked her after her friend had left when she was alone. He stabbed her in the midriff. He clearly intended to do her serious harm.”

The victim realised she had been stabbed but managed to continue walking to get to her home and her mother took her to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital.

Her blood pressure was low and she lost about one and a half to two litres of blood. A CT scan showed a penetrating injury to her liver.

“The injuries were managed successfully without the need for open surgery. They were permitted to heal slowly without complication,” said Mr Keegan.

The victim was left with permanent scarring and requires follow up checks on the healing progress of the liver.

Police found a pen knife under the table at the pub where Lowther had been sitting, but it was not the weapon used in the attack.

Lowther, a former agriculture student, was later seen by a psychiatrist and told him that “he had occasional thoughts about wanting to attack someone”, the court heard.

The psychiatrist said he was liable to outbursts of anger or violence with an inability to control “the resulting behavioural explosions”.

Defence solicitor advocate Iain Paterson said: “He was out drinking that day and apparently drank a considerable amount of alcohol and also took some drugs.”

He said unemployed Lowther intended to rid himself of his drink problem and undertake anger management while in prison.

Sentence was deferred on Lowther for the preparation of a background report and risk assessment until next month. He was remanded in custody.