A PUNISHMENT given to an Inverkeithing man for pointing an aerosol can at his partner then lighting it was not "appropriate" to the crime, a sheriff admitted this week.

Sheriff Charles Macnair was sentencing Craig Donald for the offence and told him that he was "extremely fortunate" that he had not been prosecuted on indictment.

With "considerable hesitation", he instead placed him on a community payback order.

"The difficulty I have is any custodial sentence which I would have imposed would not be adequate to deal with the offending before me," he told Donald.

"This should have been on indictment where a proper sentence could have been imposed which could have included post release supervision.

"It seems to me you are in need of supervision and I have considered very carefully whether a relatively short period in custody or a much longer period under supervision would be better for the public interest."

Appearing for sentencing on Wednesday, Donald, 46, of Whinnyhill Crescent, had previously admitted assaulting his partner on October 7 by pointing an aerosol can at her, discharging the contents and lighting them.

Depute fiscal Azrah Yousaf told the court the accused and his partner had been together for around two years and had met up in Edinburgh and had been drinking alcohol.

Ms Yousaf said they returned home and Donald became angry at the state of the house. His partner became aware of him having an argument with one of her children and went upstairs and told the accused to pack his bags, throwing his items out of the house.

He was then seen by the daughter coming into the house holding an aerosol tin, the court was told.

"He was checking his pockets saying where's my lighter," Ms Yousaf told the court. "While saying that, he went upstairs towards where the complainer was. She followed him, concerned about the safety of her mother, and saw him entering the bedroom.

"The accused lit the spray of the aerosol tin with the lighter and pointed the flame towards his partner for about five seconds."

Solicitor Ian Beatson said his client suffered from some mental health problems for which he used cannabis to self-medicate and had consumed alcohol before the offence took place.

"For reasons he cannot understand now, he picked up the aerosol and ignited it. He appreciates what the potential consequences could have been," he said.

"He cannot understand his actions. He is very regretful of what has taken place. His partner has forgiven him and they are hoping to move on in their relationship."

Sheriff Charles Macnair told Donald that using an aerosol spray as a flame-thrower was very serious.

"It can be extremely dangerous because the length of the flame, apart from anything else, is not predictable," he said. "This was aggravated in a number of respects. First of all, it was directed against a member of your family. Secondly, it was committed in the presence of a child and it was committed whilst you were under the influence of alcohol."

He said the community payback order would include a supervision requirement for three years, however, told Donald that if he did "extremely well" and was able to show he had stopped consuming cannabis for at least a year, he may be able to apply for an early discharge.

He will also have to attend a domestic offence group work programme and perform 300 hours of unpaid work within six months.