Violent thug facing jail for attacking students

Ryan Harvie. Picture: contributed
Ryan Harvie. Picture: contributed
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A VIOLENT thug who battered two defenceless female students in an unprovoked attack is facing a jail sentence.

Ryan Harvie pushed his way into a student accommodation block before launching the shocking attacks on Zuzana Hrabalova and Lauren Elliot.

Harvie punched the two students to the face for no apparent reason then ran off before police arrived in May last year.

Police Scotland subsequently launched a manhunt for Harvie after CCTV footage of him carrying out the assaults at the student flats in Riego Street, in the Tollcross area of the Capital, was uncovered.

The 26-year-old, from Berwick-upon-Tweed, was eventually picked up three weeks later after a pub doorman spotted his CCTV picture on the Police Scotland Facebook page and alerted officers.

Harvie pleaded guilty to the assaults and to two charges of behaving in a threatening manner during an appearance in the dock at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

Fiscal depute Gerard Drugan told the court Ms Hrabalova had been on a night out socialising with friends before returning to the student block at around 2am.

Mr Drugan said: “At the front door of the flats she became aware of a male standing next to the door smoking.

“She did not recognise him but did not think anything unusual that he was smoking.

“She got in and tried to close the front door but he pushed it open and followed her in. She asked him ‘are you OK?’ and he replied ‘of course I am’.

“At that point she became aware the situation was not right. He then punched her to the right side of her lip – she described it as a hard punch.

“She then told police she did not know what happened next but that she ran straight to her flat and locked the door.

“Two friends then got into the stairway and saw the accused within. They were aware of being followed [upstairs] by the male and one of them turned round and said he must leave. He didn’t say anything to them.

“She [Lauren Elliot] was punched to the mouth and she described it as being sore. All the victims were either 18 or 19 at the time.”

The attacks were caught on CCTV and stills were released to the media and public in a bid to identify the attacker.

A pub door steward then spotted Harvie’s picture on the Police Scotland Facebook page and recognised him as being the same man he had thrown out of an Edinburgh bar on the night of the attacks.

Mr Drugan added: “CCTV was retrieved and that CCTV shows events and also allows identification.”

Sheriff Frank Crowe told the accused: “I am bound to defer sentence to get background reports as you have not served a prison sentence.

“But the court must think about that in view of your record of violence.”

Sentence was deferred to June 6.

newsen@edinburghnews.com