Couple admit Royal Mile siege

Police surround the Royal Mile Pharmacy during the siege. Picture: Jane Barlow
Police surround the Royal Mile Pharmacy during the siege. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A Drug-abusing couple sparked an armed siege on a Royal Mile chemist’s shop by taking staff and customers hostage and threatening to kill them all, a court has heard.

Russell Irvine and Helen Paterson detained staff and customers at the Royal Mile Pharmacy in the city’s High Street.

During a three-hour ordeal Irvine, who was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs including heroin, methadone and cocaine, put a Stanley knife to the throat of pharmacist Peter Tinkler and said: “If you try anything, they all die.”

Irvine, 32, and his partner Paterson, 33, both took morphine tablets and drank vodka in the shop, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

Irvine claimed to police that he used to be a soldier and told them: “You’ve ruined my life. You’ve taken my child away.”

His accomplice Paterson shouted at officers; “Just f****** shoot me then.”

Irvine, of Abbey Lane, and Paterson, of Carrick Knowe Loan, both Edinburgh, admitted abducting and assaulting Mr Tinkler, employees Diane Keenan and Sandra Carr and customers Kaya McQueen, who was five months pregnant, Paula Gordon and Mahinder Singh-Landa and robbing the premises of medication on May 15 this year.

Three of the victims Mr Singh-Landa, Ms McQueen and Ms Gordon had their hands bound with carrier bags and tights.

At one stage Irvine took the lid of a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and poured it in a line at the door of the premises and told police that if they came in he would set the place on fire.

The stand-off was ended after Paterson collapsed because of the drink and drugs she had taken. Police then went in a back door and officers used Taser stun guns on Irvine.

Footage of the ordeal was captured on CCTV cameras and excerpts were shown to the judge, Lord Doherty.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court: “The victims were subjected to a three-hour ordeal at the hands of the accused, during which time they were detained against their will, assaulted by knives being brandished at them, tied up and threatened with violence.“

“From witness accounts of what the accused said during the incident it appears to have been triggered by the fact that the accused Paterson’s baby was removed from her care and both accused’s desire to commit suicide,” he said.

“Mr Tinkler states that he was in fear for his own life and the lives of the staff and customers and being in fear of the two accused killing themselves,” he said.

The prosecutor added: “Sandra Carr states that she was terrified and fearful that the accused were going to ‘slice someone’.

“Diane Keenan also describes being terrified for her life, shaking and hanging on to Sandra Carr. She describes the incident as being a ‘total nightmare’ and she was scared to go back to the shop,” he said.

Mr Prentice added: “Kaya McQueen thought that during the incident the accused were going to kill them all. Paula Gordon also indicates that she thought they were all going to die.”

Ms McQueen was one of two pregnant women in the shop at the start of the incident. The other, pharmacy dispenser Nicola Lumsden, managed to escape by leaving via a rear staff door and made her way to neighbouring premises to raise the alarm.

Mr Prentice said Irvine and Paterson, who both had long-standing problems with drugs, were in a relationship at the time of the crime. Paterson had given birth in March this year but the child was placed in care because of her drug and drink misuse. Irvine was not the father.

The prosecutor said Irvine was known to all pharmacy staff because of his regular attendance for the heroin-substitute methadone and other prescriptions.

When the pair walked in they were seen to be acting in a suspicious way and it was thought they might be about to steal from the shop.

Both of them started causing a disturbance shouting at staff claiming they were accusing them of shoplifting. Some customers managed to leave.

Irvine ushered Mr Tinkler through the back of the shop along with a staff member and told them: “I just want some drugs and nobody will get hurt.”

He said he wanted morphine and pulled out a Stanley knife. Ms McQueen told Paterson that she going to call the police but the phone was knocked out her hand.

Mr Prentice said Natalie Gilroy stepped in in defence of the pregnant woman and hit Paterson and attempts were made to wrestle her out of the shop.

But Irvine called through to Paterson: “You know what to do.” Paterson them pulled out a Stanley knife. Mr Singh-Landa intervened and took hold of Paterson and pushed her to the side.

Irvine grabbed hold of Mr Tinkler while brandishing a knife and shouted: “Nobody leaves.”

Sentence was deferred on Irvine, who has previous convictions for assault and having an offensive weapon, and Paterson for the preparation of reports.

They are both being held in custody.