A HEARTBROKEN mum told today how her daughter’s life had spiralled out of control, as she was jailed for armed robbery.
Megan Preston and co-accused Steven McGregor used a fake gun to target a dozen people in the Meadows after downing a cocktail of alcohol and Valium.
They were each jailed for four years yesterday after passers-by were forced to hand over cash and valuables during the rampage in March.
Preston’s mother said her 24-year-old daughter intended to devote herself to education while serving her sentence at Cornton Vale prison in a bid to “rebuild her life”.
Christine Preston said Megan was suffering from a bipolar disorder at the time of the crime spree and had run out of medication.
Mrs Preston, who works as a nurse, has submitted a formal complaint to NHS bosses over their handling of her daughter’s treatment.
The 47-year-old, who lives in Gilmerton, said: “Megan’s lawyer had prepared us for the worst as she could have got six years. I don’t know if ‘adequate’ is the right expression with four years, but that’s how we feel.
“Megan will be in the open unit at Cornton Vale to get the support to adapt to coming back to live in the community.”
Mrs Preston said her daughter, who had studied to become a vet, had a history of self-harm, which included at least two suicide attempts.
“Megan was a happy normal girl when she was young,” she said. “She was 14 or 15 when she started having problems.
“In the year before this happened, her hospitalisations and self-harm had increased. It had been years of things getting worse.”
Mrs Preston added: “Megan knew she deserved to be punished, and while she’s in prison she intends to make the best of it. She’s a study buff so she wants to do as much further education as possible.”
Preston, of Stoneyhill Road, Musselburgh, and McGregor, 25, of Magdalene Drive, Duddingston, were jailed at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday after pleading guilty last month to assault and robbery and firearm possession charges.
Sentencing them, Judge Lord Bracadale told the pair they would have been locked up for six years if not for their early guilty pleas.
Mrs Preston said she now planned to write to First Minister Alex Salmond to urge the creation of a programme to divert people with mental health problems away from the courts and into treatment instead.
Stuart Wilson, director of communications and public affairs at NHS Lothian, said: “We cannot discuss individual patient complaints.”