Attack on ‘sleazy’ photographer in extortion bid

Garry Faulds and Laura Colquhoun were on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.  Picture: Bill Henry
Garry Faulds and Laura Colquhoun were on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Henry
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TWO ruthless lovers are facing lengthy sentences after an attempt to extort cash from an amateur glamour photographer, claiming they would expose his allegedly sleazy lifestyle to his employers.

Garry Faulds, 21, and his fiancee Laura Colquhoun, 17, hatched a plot to force the 53-year-old man to hand over large amounts of cash.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - spent over a year taking photographs of Colquhoun, an aspiring model.

He also said that she had repeatedly performed a sex act on him and was receiving £150 per photo session.

But the devious teenager allowed her boyfriend - who was wearing a balaclava and a blue boiler suit - to enter the local government employee’s home in the Scottish capital.

Once inside, Faulds tied the man’s arms, legs and mouth together with gaffa tape and threatened him with a gas canister.

The stranger also repeatedly struck the man and told him he was a member of an Ulster loyalist terror group who could cause him serious harm.

He also said he would tell the man’s employers that he was taking illegal photographs of underage girls.

The man - who works in a senior capacity for a local authority - has never been charged or prosecuted in connection with the allegations made by Faulds.

He claimed that Faulds also held a gun to his head during the ordeal - but a jury concluded there wasn’t enough evidence available to prove the claim.

The pair were only caught after the photographer notified his bosses. They brought in the police who swooped on Faulds and Colquhoun days after the attack in August last year.

The story emerged after Faulds and Colquhoun, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, were convicted on Friday of a charge of robbing, assaulting and threatening to extort cash from the man at an address in Edinburgh on August 23 last year.

A jury took two hours 40 minutes to return a guilty verdict.

Colquhoun wept, shook and sucked her thumb as prosecution lawyer David Taylor told the court that she had no previous convictions.

The court heard that Faulds has convictions for minor offences.

Temporary judge Paul Arthurson QC remanded Faulds, a prisoner of HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, in custody. Colquhoun was granted bail.

Judge Arthurson deferred sentence on the pair in order to obtain reports.

He told them: “You have been both convicted of a serious offence which will almost inevitably result in prison sentences.”

At the start of proceedings on Monday, prosecutors read the jury of nine women and six men the contents of a legal document which outlined the pair’s actions against the man.

The document stated how on August 23 2013 at an address in Edinburgh, the duo -with Faulds wearing a mask - entered the photographer’s house and detained him there against his will.

They assaulted the man, repeatedly punched him on the head causing him to fall to the ground.

They then tied his wrists and dragged him bodily into another room.

Faulds then menaced the photographer with a blowtorch and forced him to provide them with passwords and access to his computers and bank accounts.

Prosecutors originally stated that a gun was held to the man’s head and that he was forced to contact a bank employee in an attempt to obtain a new access code to an online bank account.

Faulds and Colquhoun then forced the man to hand over a bank card and a pin number and used the card to withdraw £100 from an ATM machine.

The pair also robbed him of approximately £800 of money, a quantity of photographic equipment, a set of keys, a Royal Bank of Scotland smart card and smart card reader.

Both Faulds and Colquhoun also threatened to reveal details of the man’s personal life and activities to his employers and other persons unless he paid cash over to them.

The pair then attempted to extort a further £500 from him, all to his injury.

During proceedings, the man- who cannot be named for legal reasons - relived the frightening moments when Faulds confronted him at his home.

The man had told the court that he had met Miss Colquhoun in 2012 and had conducted a number of photo shoots with her. He also said that she had repeatedly performed a sex act on him on different occasions.

But moments before the photo shoot started, the court heard that the camera enthusiast encountered a man wearing a “blue jump suit” and a balaclava “with the eyes cut out” in his hall way.

The court heard that the stranger assaulted the man, tied him up with gaffa tape and threatened him with a firearm and a gas canister.

Speaking about the alleged firearm, the man said “It looked real enough. It didn’t look like a toy.”

The photographer also told prosecution lawyer David Taylor: “When I walked into the hall there was a guy dressed in a balaclava with the eyes cut out. He was wearing a blue jump suit.

“He came towards me and he tried to over power me.

“I fell backwards. I was screaming ‘help’. I was shouting as loudly as I could.”

The photographer told the court that the man then tied his arms, legs and mouth with tape.

He added: “I remember him calling me a vile man.”

The victim also said that the stranger produced a gas canister and started intimidating him with the device.

The court also heard evidence that Faulds - a member of an Orange flute band - boasted about having links to terror group, the Ulster Defence Association.

He told Mr Taylor: “He sat there for a period of time presumably just to frighten me and I must say it was quite effective.”

The court heard that the stranger tried to access the photographer’s on line bank account. However, the court heard that he failed to get into the account and was locked out.

The court heard that the stranger then dialled the number of the man’s bank and told the man to tell staff at the call centre to unlock the account.

The photographer told the court that the man then placed the gun to his head.

He added: “He put the gun to my head and put the phone to my ear and told me to get my account re-enabled.”

The court heard that the photographer couldn’t get his account re-activated.

During the alleged ordeal, the court also heard that Miss Colquhoun spoke to the stranger in the balaclava.

The court heard that she allegedly said: “What are we going to do now Garry?”

Faulds and Colquhoun pleaded not guilty to a single charge. They both didn’t give evidence to explain their position.

But on Friday, a jury took just a few hours to convict them. The jury deleted references to a firearm being used during the frightening attack as there wasn’t enough evidence available to convict him of the claim.

The two lovers will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on April 4.