Photographer threatened in alleged extortion bid

The High Court, Edinburgh
The High Court, Edinburgh
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AN AMATEUR glamour photographer has told a court how a masked man came into his home and held a gun to his head during an alleged extortion bid.

The 53-year-old man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - told the High Court in Edinburgh that the man confronted him at his property in the city on August 23 last year.

The court heard that the local government employee was getting ready to take snaps of an aspiring 17-year-old model called Laura Colquhoun.

The man said he had met Miss Colquhoun in 2012 and had conducted a number of photo shoots with her.

But moments before the photo shoot started, he said he saw 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 firearm, the man said: “It looked real enough. It didn’t look like a toy.”

The man was giving evidence on the first day of the trial of Garry Faulds, 21, a prisoner of HMP Low Moss in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, and Miss Colquhoun, of Knowe Road, Paisley.

The pair have pleaded not guilty to a charge which alleges they assaulted, robbed and attempted to extort cash from the man at an address in the Edinburgh area on August 23, 2013.

On Monday, the man told prosecution lawyer David Taylor that he had taken up photography as a hobby and was interested in taking glamour snaps of women.

He got in touch with Miss Colquhoun in 2012 and he had organised a number of photo shoots with her. The man also told Mr Taylor that Miss Colquhoun would be paid £150 for taking part in a session.

He also said that he had bought clothes for her from a branch of the high street clothes chain Primark which she wore during the sessions.

The court heard that in August last year, Miss Colquhoun arrived at the man’s flat and was getting ready for another photo shoot.

But the photographer suddenly came across a stranger in his house.

The snapper told Mr 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 overpower me. I fell backwards. I was screaming ‘help’. I was shouting as loudly as I could.”

He said the intruder then produced a gun from a black rucksack and which he used to threaten the alleged victim.

The photographer told the court that the man then tied his arms, legs and mouth with tape. The man also said that the stranger produced a gas canister and started intimidating him with the device.

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 online bank account. However he failed to get into the account and was locked out.

He then dialled the number of the man’s bank and told the man to tell staff at the call centre to unlock the account, placing the gun to his head as he did so.

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.”

Despite the intimidation, 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, saying: “What are we going to do now Garry?”

Faulds and Colquhoun have pleaded not guilty to a single charge.

Prosecutors allege that 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.

It is alleged that they assaulted the man, repeatedly punched him on the head, whereby he fell to the ground.

Prosecutors also claim that they presented a handgun at him before ordering him to enter a room, binding his wrists and dragging him bodily into another room.

The Crown also claims that they menaced the photographer with a blowtorch, forced him to provide them with passwords and access to his computers and bank accounts.

It is also claimed that they held the gun at his head and forced him to contact a bank employee in an attempt to obtain a new access code to an online bank account.

The prosecution also claim that Faulds and Colquhoun forced him to hand over a bank card and a pin number and used the card to withdraw £100 from an ATM machine.

The pair also allegedly 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 allegedly 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.

Prosecutors also say they attempted to extort a further £1500 from him, all to his injury.

At the start of proceedings, temporary judge Paul Arthurson QC told the jury of nine women and six men that the trial was expected to take five days.

The trial continues on Tuesday.