‘Legal high’ mugger jailed for pensioner attack

Keith Ballantine was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Bill Henry
Keith Ballantine was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Bill Henry
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A COWARDLY mugger who targeted frail pensioners after taking legal highs has been jailed.

Keith Ballantine had used the drugs along with heroin before he attacked and robbed an 82-year-old woman as she walked along a dark secluded street following a shopping trip in December last year.

Ballantine, 40, dragged the pensioner to the ground before running off with her shopping bag, handbag and purse.

The brave OAP – who suffered an injury to her knee during the attack - managed to hang on to her belongings for a short time before Ballantine eventually ripped the bags from her grasp.

The empty bags and purse were subsequently found stashed in a nearby rubbish bin following the incident in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

But the thug was eventually caught after his DNA showed up on the Tesco shopping bag he had grabbed from the pensioner.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court had been previously told Ballantine jumped the woman from behind before knocking her to the ground and running off with her belongings.

Fiscal depute Marie-Claire Chaffey said the brave OAP was injured as she was dragged to the ground as she battled to save her belongings.

Ms Chaffey added a Tesco bag was subsequently found in a nearby bin and Ballantine’s DNA had shown up on the outside following tests.

The mugger also admitted to attempting to break into a 72-year-old woman’s home just four weeks earlier during last week’s court appearance.

The OAP was in her Musselburgh flat at the time when she heard Ballantine trying to gain entry by climbing in through an open window.

Police tests showed Ballantine’s fingerprint was then “recovered from inside the property”.

Today solicitor Mary Moultrie told Edinburgh Sheriff Court her client had “learning difficulties and low intelligence” and was now “disgusted by his behaviour”.

Ms Moultrie added Ballantine’s family had disowned him following the attacks.

Sheriff Nigel Ross said: “You assaulted and robbed an 82-year-old lady and against that background I can only send you to prison.”

Sheriff Ross sentenced Ballantine to 15 months in prison for the OAP robbery, and a five month consecutive prison sentence for the attempted house robbery.

Ballantine admitted to pulling at a partially open ground floor window at an address at Millhill Wynd, Musselburgh, and attempting to break in with intent to steal on 9 November 2014.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting an 82-year-old woman by approaching her from behind causing her to fall to the ground to her injury, rob her of her shopping bag, handbag, purse and a set of keys at Eskdale Mews, Musselburgh, on 4 December last year.

Pleas of not guilty to further charges including breaking into a private home in Wallyford, East Lothian, a community centre in Musselburgh and mugging a 78-year-old woman in Inveresk Village were all accepted by the Crown.