Post Office tells branch to pay back cash thieves took

Francis McLean was sentenced to five years in jail
Francis McLean was sentenced to five years in jail
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POST Office chiefs are demanding cash stolen in an armed robbery be repaid by the branch, despite a staff member risking his life to recover thousands of pounds before the robbers fled.

Aiden Gilani, 25, fended off two thugs who stormed the Knightsridge Post Office, in Livingston, wielding a Samurai sword and demanding cash.

Staff at the branch say the Post Office is insisting the branch owners repay half the stolen cash.

Mr Gilani was told to lie flat on the ground as the pair emptied the safe of £17,000, while screaming he would be killed if he didn’t obey instructions. He seized his moment when one became distracted and snatched the weapon before launching an effective counter attack.

The two robbers were injured in the melee and shed £15,000 of loot before fleeing on bicycles.

Despite bravely defending the post office – and salvaging the bulk of the cash – branch owners have been told they must reimburse 50 per cent of the stolen money.

“[The Post Office] said the door of the safe was open and that we would have to pay 50 per cent of the money back that was stolen,” said a source at the branch. “But it was open because we had gone to take money out.

“We are disappointed about that but we cannot change the law. These days everyone is struggling so it’s very difficult but at least Aiden was brave enough to get back £15,000.”

The Livingston pair, Francis McLean, 50, of Erskine Way, and Valene Brown, 21, of Glen Crescent, previously admitted assault and robbery at the West Lothian post office and were sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday to five years and three years, respectively. McLean will serve a further two years on licence once he is released.

Sentencing the pair at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Andrew Hardie said Mr Gilani, bravely tackled the pair despite the fact McLean was “brandishing a sword with a 20-inch blade”. He said: “Clearly his actions were extremely brave but could have resulted in serious consequences.”

Solicitor advocate Ian Bryce said McLean’s crime was a “hapless” one but he had shown a degree of empathy for what the victim and his family had gone through.

A branch source said the robbers should be forced to repay the money they stole.

“It’s very unfair because they will still get their giros when they get out,” they said.

A Post Office Ltd spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on individual cases.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com