A THIEF caught using a pensioner’s bus pass to travel to court the morning after she was brutally assaulted and left for dead has been jailed for a year.
Alexander DeVries was accused of attacking 75-year-old church elder Evelyn Crawford in Drylaw after detectives found him with her property, including the pass.
However, a sheriff has ruled that there was not enough evidence linking the 36-year-old – who has previous convictions for theft, wilful fire-raising and assault – to the crime.
Instead, DeVries has pleaded guilty to charges of “theft by finding” and fraudulent use of the pass.
A trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that Mrs Crawford’s mobile phone was used to call DeVries’ ex-partner three hours after the robbery on January 15. DeVries admitted using Mrs Crawford’s pensioner’s bus pass the next day to travel to the court for a hearing.
Following the ruling, police chiefs said they were “not looking for anyone else in connection” with the robbery.
Mrs Crawford was unable to identify the man who tore her handbag from her grip, sending her sprawling to the ground and suffering from injuries to her head, broken fingers and broken ribs, which punctured her lung. She needed an operation to remove fluid from her lung.
The court heard detectives recovered CCTV footage from a Lothian bus in the days after the attack, which showed a man using Mrs Crawford’s bus pass. Detectives were able to trace the man as DeVries and a search of his home recovered the victim’s mobile phone, bus pass, wallet and her glasses and case.
Interviewed by officers on January 26, DeVries claimed he had found the mobile phone on a bus while the other items were lying on the ground in West Pilton Rise.
During the interview, which was played to the jury, one of the detectives said: “Everything you found in the last few days belonged to the elderly victim of a robbery. What are the chances of that?”
DeVries replied: “I didn’t rob anyone. It’s not in my nature to rob or steal from anyone. You can say what you want, but I didn’t rob anyone.” DeVries also told the officers: “I really, really sincerely didn’t rob the old lady. Picking up stuff from the ground, I’ll do. Robbery, theft, not my cup of tea.”
Detective Constable James Philp, one of the detectives on the inquiry, said that Mrs Crawford’s phone showed a call to DeVries’ ex-partner at 9.48pm on January 15. Mrs Crawford was attacked and robbed at around 6pm.
DeVries had claimed to police that the phone, which he said he found on a number 37 Lothian bus, was out of battery and he was unable to use it.
Told during the interview that the phone was taken during the robbery, DeVries said: “No danger. Check the cameras on the bus and you’ll see.”
Sheriff Paul Arthurson QC ruled yesterday that the charge of assault and robbery against DeVries – who has been on remand since his arrest on January 26 – could not be heard by the jury. he sheriff said: “There was not sufficient identification of the accused as being the robber. The overwhelming evidence of possession could not correct that defect in the case”.
A police spokesman said: “While we recognise the decision, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this crime.”
In July 2010, DeVries – a father-of-one – was left with a ten-centimetre scar across his face after being slashed with a knife by two muggers in West Pilton Park.
EVELYN Crawford feared no-one would be convicted of mugging her as she could not identify the man who launched the vicious attack, it was revealed today.
Mrs Crawford, who was honoured as Drylaw Citizen of the Year in 2007, gave evidence at the trial of Alexander DeVries but she was unable to identify him as the robber.
Local councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I’ve spoken to Evelyn at community events since this happened. She was nervous about the trial coming up. Her worry was that she could not identify the person involved.
“It was dark and the person came at her from behind. She was concerned about what would happen in court because of that.”
Cllr Hinds added: “It’s unfortunate that no-one has been convicted but we all hope that Evelyn can move on and feel confident with things like going out at night.”