An armed gang who stole nearly £20,000 from a city centre bank in a “terrifying” raid spent just £66 of their haul before they were caught.
The men carried out the daytime robbery at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Tollcross a week after they were behind a £230,000 heist at the high-
profile Rox jeweller in Glasgow.
Alistair Oliver, from Wallyford, bought four balaclavas and an axe from B&Q in Edinburgh before the second raid.
At the High Court in Glasgow, Jason Yendall, 29, Aaron Brannan, 23, and Jason Britton, 23, all from Manchester, admitted to the armed raids on Rox in Argyll Arcade on September 24 last year and RBS in Home Street, on October 2.
Oliver, 30, and Gordon McLay, 32, of Tranent, pleaded guilty to the RBS robbery and to being in possession of some of the stolen watches from Rox and selling them on.
A sixth man was discharged by the court.
The elaborate robberies involved vehicles and registration plates being stolen on both sides of the Border, the court heard yesterday. Yendall, Brannan and Britton travelled from Edinburgh to carry out the first raid, while Oliver arranged for the trio to stay at a friend’s flat in Tollcross for the robbery at nearby RBS.
During the RBS raid, the gang threatened staff, with one of the men shouting: “Don’t phone the police or we’ll kill you.”
Yendall, Brannan and Britton – all masked and carrying weapons – then held up the bank after two of them jumped the counter.
They shouted: “Don’t f****** move or we’ll kill you. Give me your f****** money.”
As they grabbed cash, some notes fell on the floor – but they were unable to pick them back up due to their gloves.
They took £19,569 from cash drawers and initially escaped in a van, before
jumping into a Ford car, where McLay and Oliver were waiting. But they only got as far as Howden Hall Road in Liberton before they were stopped by police, who had been watching them following the Glasgow raid.
Cash and two axes were found in the back of the car, and Oliver, Britton and Brannan also all had money on them – including £400 in one of their socks.
McLay claimed he and Oliver had been eating in the car when three mystery men jumped into the vehicle and demanded they drive.
All but £66 of the cash was recovered by officers.
Brannan’s mobile was checked by police, who found a picture of Britton wearing one of the 21 watches taken in the Argyll Arcade robbery.
Advocate depute Sheena Fraser said: “In two of the photographs, a mirror is caught in the background and a man wearing a watch is caught in the mirror. He is clearly identifiable as Britton. This watch was one valued at £16,000.”
CCTV pictures showed Oliver and McLay in a bookmaker’s shop at the time of the robbery and they were later seen wearing the stolen watches.
Miss Fraser added: “They had been given to them by [Yendall, Brannan and Britton] after they returned to Edinburgh. They have not been recovered and were sold on by Oliver and McLay.”
In the days after the raid, Yendall made a number of internet searches looking for second-hand watch websites.
The value of the watches ranged from £2750 to £23,000 each. The total haul stolen was £229,601, which has never been recovered. The Argyll Arcade was also left with a £20,000 repair bill.
Detective Inspector Stuart Harkness from Edinburgh CID said: “The incident within the Tollcross RBS in October last year was a terrifying experience for the staff and customers who were within the branch at the time.
“Thankfully no-one was injured. However, a large sum of cash was taken and a major investigation was launched to trace those responsible.”
Judge Lord Turnbull called for reports on the men and remanded them in custody, deferring sentence until July 9.