Shampoo attack man is jailed for 14 months

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The Independent Online

A man was jailed for 14 months yesterday after being convicted of assaulting his ex-wife by smearing shampoo on a door handle in the knowledge that it would cause her a potentially fatal allergic reaction.

Colin Slane, 28, a former Scots Guard, had been found guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court of assaulting Heather Brown, 33, his former wife, who suffers anaphylactic shock - a life-threatening reaction - when exposed to a variety of chemicals.

During the trial Ms Brown had described how she had experienced 50 allergic episodes of varying seriousness since she was diagnosed with total allergy syndrome in 1994.

Attacks had been set off, she said, by drinking Irn Bru, chewing gum, sucking a Polo mint and by standing too close to someone eating a cough sweet. She said she always carried an adrenaline injection in her handbag in case she began to lose control when suffering a reaction.

While Ms Brown was in court, Sheriff Richard Davidson had imposed tight restrictions on those participating, banning the use of deodorants and hairspray. Two reporters were denied entry because they were wearing aftershave and another was barred because he had eaten a snack which might have contained nuts.

During the one-week trial, Slane admitted having put the shampoo on the door handle in Ms Brown's home but said he thought it would only cause his former wife a slight rash, if anything. He said he had been having difficulty accepting the breakdown of their marriage and his intention had only been to frighten her.

The court heard that the couple met in December 1994 at Distills, a Dundee nightclub where Ms Brown was working as a bouncer, and were married a year later. But their marriage turned sour and, after a series of temporary splits, they finally separated in 1998.

Ms Brown told the court that although she had tried not to touch the shampoo, which had been noticed on the door handle by her son Alan, some of it had dripped on to her little finger. She said she started to feel dizzy, breathless and itchy and had taken an antihistamine tablet to counter the reaction, which she said lasted for around an hour.

Sheriff Davidson sentenced Slane, from Dundee, to 12 months for the assault which took place at Ms Brown's home in January 1999. Slane was given a further two months to run consecutively and another two months to run concurrently for spitting in his wife's face and damaging her car by stamping on the roof. Slane had denied all the charges.

Sheriff Davidson described the shampoo incident as a "particularly wicked act". He said Slane had been fully aware of the possible consequences of exposing Ms Brown to the shampoo and accused Slane of lying when he had denied this during the trial.