ONE of Edinburgh’s worst criminals, who has racked up more than 260 offences, has lost his appeal against a 21-month jail sentence for stealing from a pensioner on a train.
A judge told Paul James Wilson that he had a “truly appalling record” of offending as he rejected the appeal bid.
Lawyers for the 38-year-old serial thief had taken his case to the Appeal Court in London in a bid to reduce the prison term.
The decision by appeal judge Mr Justice Cranston to throw out the appeal was backed today as the “kind of tough response” needed in Scottish courts.
The court heard yesterday about Wilson’s phenomenal list of convictions as he contested the 21-month sentence he received for stealing from a 72-year-old woman on a Newcastle to Edinburgh train in September 2011.
Wilson, of Niddrie Mill Crescent, had admitted carrying out the theft and was sentenced during a hearing at Carlisle Crown Court in October.
During yesterday’s hearing, the court heard that Wilson was on the train with his mother and was seen to put his hand into the pensioner’s bag and take a smaller bag from it.
A 19-year-old woman witnessed the theft and went to tell train staff, but she was followed by Wilson who tried to engage her in conversation.
The teenager managed to alert train guards, only for Wilson to claim he was “a cage fighter”, who then threatened the crew leader that he would “knock his head off”.
Previously, Wilson had appeared in court on 64 occasions in connection with 261 offences, mainly theft and other dishonesty-related crimes. He had been given a mixture of custodial and non-custodial sentences for the crimes.
Making his ruling, Mr Cranston pointed out that some of the convictions involved Wilson adopting a similar method of theft to that which he used on the train. Dismissing Wilson’s appeal and upholding the original sentence, the judge continued: “The judge rightly regarded the seriousness of this offence of theft as having been aggravated by the truly appalling record of previous offending by this appellant.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont gave his backing to the appeal court judge’s ruling. He said: “This is the kind of tough response people want to see from Scotland’s justice system.
“Quite why this individual thought it necessary to appeal when he has such an abhorrent track record is beyond me.
“People will wonder, had this been heard in a softer touch Scottish court, would the outcome have been quite as satisfactory.”
Councillor David Walker, who represents the Craigmillar/Portobello ward which includes Niddrie, said: “He’s not a person I have heard of, but it’s appalling that this individual has been involved in that level of offending.
“The judge is perfectly within his rights to impose the harshest sentence available under the circumstances.
“No-one should be allowed to continue with behaviour in that manner and not expect a long jail sentence.”
UNENVIABLE NUMBER OF CONVICTIONS
TIE PIECE FOR P8 LEAD
PAUL Wilson is one of the most prolific offenders in the Capital and is believed to be among the worst serial criminals in the UK.
Figures released last May showed that England’s most prolific criminal has 567 convictions to his name.
A further eight career criminals have been convicted more than 300 times while the tenth worst offender in England has 268 convictions. Wilson, who was sentenced for his latest offence in Carlisle, has a record which would put him just outside the top ten for English criminals.
In 2007, serial thief James McMillan, whose address at the time was also Niddrie Mill Crescent, was banned from almost 40 streets in Edinburgh’s city centre. He had more than 60 convictions for dishonesty.