Wallpaper bookie raiders jailed for eight years

Ladbrokes betting shop, Leith Walk, Edinburgh.
Ladbrokes betting shop, Leith Walk, Edinburgh.
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TWO masked raiders who terrorised a bookie’s shop manager by pretending a roll of wallpaper was a gun hidden in a bag have been jailed for a total of more than eight years.

A court heard that crack cocaine addict Darren Hunter was desperate for cash to pay his drug debt. He and schizophrenic William Appleby left Ladbrokes in Leith Walk, Edinburgh, with £2000.

Appleby’s caring sister had repaid the cash her brother stole said solicitor advocate Brian Gilfedder, defending.

But her generosity failed to save Appleby, 37, from a prison sentence of three years and nine months.

Hunter, 31, whose drug addictions since his teens have resulted in a lengthy record - mainly for shop-lifting - was jailed for four and a half years.

Sentencing them at the High Court in Edinburgh today judge Lord Uist said: “It is intolerable that employees in any type of shop should be subjected to such treatment by criminal like you.”

After watching CCTV footage of the raid, Lord Uist said the “weapon” certainly looked like a gun, particularly because of the way it was being held by Appleby.

Police investigating the raid on July 4 found the roll of wallpaper, along with clothing worn by the robbers.

Appleby of 9-10 Bucanan Street, Edinburgh and Hunter, who appeared from custody, admitted assault and robbery in the Ladbrokes in Crichton Place - part of the city’s Leith Walk.

The court heard how manager Craig Winton stuffed banknotes into a bag held by Hunter, fearing his life was in danger.

A number of punters were using gaming machines or watching TV monitors.

Advocate depute Douglas Fairley QC, prosecuting, described how the two men entered the shop just after 6.30pm when Mr Winton was working alone behind the counter.

Mr Fairley said Appleby, his face partly hidden behind a scarf, was holding an object with one hand at the end and the other halfway along its length to make it seem he had a firearm.

“The Crown understands that the item concealed in the bag may, in fact, have been a roll of wallpaper, though this would not have been obvious to Mr Winton.

The prosecutor continued: “Mr Winton states that he felt threatened and afraid and believed that the concealed item was a gun.”

He handed over about £400 from his till then, when the robbers demanded more, opened the safe behind him.

Today Mr Gilfedder acknowledged: “He could not have known it was a roll of wallpaper in a plastic bag. He would have been subjected to a very frightening experience.”

The court heard that Appleby had been smoking cannabis since he was ten years old and his mental health problems had been diagnosed when he was 17.

Solicitor advocate Euan Roy, for Hunter, said the former labourer, tyre fitter and roofer had managed to control his drug problems for a time but had relapsed into depression when he split up with a long-term girlfriend and took to drugs again.

The two men had also faced a charge of returning to the Ladbrokes shop two weeks later and attempting to rob staff but their not guilty plea was accepted.