Armed robber foiled by jacket as bookies theft captured on CCTV

Coral bookmakers on Great Junction Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
Coral bookmakers on Great Junction Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
Share this article
Have your say

AN armed robber was snared after police were able to track him on camera thanks to his distinctive jacket.

Ben Johnston walked into a Leith branch of bookmaker Coral on New Year’s Day and demanded cash from an employee while armed with a fake gun later found by

children. The 33-year-old, also known as Watson, was wearing a hat and sunglasses and a blue jacket with grey patches on the shoulders when he carried out the raid in Great Junction Street.

Police were unable to identify Johnston from the shop’s CCTV footage, but widened their search and spotted him on camera running towards Constitution Street and at a block of flats.

Officers then tracked down the father-of-two at his home in Loganlea Drive, Craigentinny, where they found the jacket worn during the robbery.

The High Court in Edinburgh was yesterday told how Coral employee Alex French was working alone behind the counter when Johnston approached him and put down a bag, ordering: “Fill it up.”

Advocate depute John Scullion told the court: “He [Johnston] was wearing a distinctive blue jacket with grey patches at the shoulders.”

Mr Scullion added: “The accused’s jacket was unzipped and he had his right hand positioned inside the jacket. Mr French saw what he believed to be a revolver type gun 
concealed within the jacket.”
The robber told his victim: “Just do it and no-one will get hurt.”

Mr French took cash from the till and the raider walked out with £155 in the bag. When police told Johnston what clothing they wanted to recover, he told them “all that stuff went in the bucket down by Leith Boxing Club”, said Mr Scullion.

Johnston told officers he did not think he was involved in the robbery at Coral, which took place on January 1 this year.

Five days after the raid, a group of children found a replica revolver inside a discarded cooker at a bin store in Sandport Way in Leith. It was shown to Mr French who said it was very similar to the one used in the robbery, although there was no scientific evidence linking Johnston to it.

Defence solicitor advocate George Pollock said: “Whilst the accused accepts an imitation firearm was used, it is his position it was not the article recovered.”

Johnston said he disposed of the fake gun in bins which were emptied before police had the chance to search them.

Johnston admitted assaulting Mr French by presenting a fake firearm at him and robbing him on January 1 this year. The judge, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, deferred sentence on him for a background report until next month.