A8 shooting: Motorbike sought after conman attack

Robert Kelbie. Picture: Comp
Robert Kelbie. Picture: Comp
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Police investigating a gun attack on the home of convicted fraudster Robert Kelbie are now looking to trace a motorbike seen sitting nearby shortly before the incident.

A gunman blasted the outside walls of the home of Robert Kelbie in Ratho Station with at least two bullets at around 9.30pm on Monday.

The A8 was closed while the search was carried out, sparking travel chaos. Picture: Hemedia

The A8 was closed while the search was carried out, sparking travel chaos. Picture: Hemedia

Police said that the house, where 30-year-old Kelbie’s mother is also understood to live, was occupied at the time, but no-one was injured by the “significant” gunfire, heard by several shocked witnesses.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston, who is leading the investigation, said: “From our investigation at this stage we are keen to trace the rider of a dark coloured motorbike that was present on the north carriageway of the A8, about 9.30pm just prior to the report of shots being fired.

“It is possible that this vehicle may also have travelled from the Gogar roundabout towards Newbridge roundabout a short time before the incident. I am keen to hear from anyone who may have seen a motorbike in that road or the surrounding side roads at that time or if they were themselves the rider, to come forward as they may be able to assist by excluding themselves from the investigation.

“This incident has occurred on a busy main route and I am aware from our initial enquiries that there were a number of vehicles who passed this location travelling in both directions at the time. I would ask for anyone who was travelling on this road, to consider if they saw a motorbike, any vehicles that may have been stationary in the vicinity of the bus stop on the north side of the road and any persons who may have been present on the footway or the road to contact the police.”

“We believe this incident was an isolated matter, however I am aware that our investigation in the area has had a significant impact on the local community, as well as motorists utilising the A8 and at this point to thank them for their continued assistance and co-operation.”

“While our investigation carries on, high-visibility police patrols will be deployed within the Ratho Station area to engage with the public and offer reassurance. Anyone who believes they have information can speak with these officers or contact us on 101. Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

It is not known whether Kelbie – who reportedly dated former Miss Scotland Lois Weatherup and drove a red Ferrari – was at home.

To allow for a search of the area – near to the airport – the A8 was closed, sparking travel chaos across the region.

Superintendent Matt Richards, of Police Scotland, said detectives believed Kelbie’s property was deliberately targeted.

He said: “We do not believe this to be random.”

Sources said that Kelbie is involved in a number of long-running feuds, while detectives have previously acknowledged that the ex-boxer had a “long list of enemies”.

Kelbie was shot in the car park of Bannatyne’s Health Club at Newcraighall on October 20, 2010 by a believed gangland hitman. He drove himself to hospital for treatment despite his injuries.

No-one has ever been arrested over that shooting, which has been linked to jailed drug kingpin and gang leader Mark Richardson.

Following the latest firearms incident involving Kelbie, police closed the vital road link in both directions between the Newbridge Roundabout and the airport during the rush hour yesterday morning to allow a detailed search of the area to be carried out.

Kelbie’s home is right next to the busy road.

An underworld source said flamboyant Kelbie is no stranger to such acts of violence.

The insider said: “Kelbie is involved in a number of feuds with different people and groups over various dealings. There won’t be a shortage of suspects.

“Shooting at the house is probably just a warning.

“People will be linking it to Mark Richardson, but it’s not his style. Mark will be getting released from jail soon and he’ll want to keep his nose clean because he knows the police will be on top of him. He wants to get on with his life when he gets out and doesn’t need the hassle from something like this.”

Underworld rumours had suggested that Kelbie was shot outside the city gym following an assault on a relative of Richardson. Richardson, 26, who led an Inch-based gang linked to a string of shootings in Edinburgh, was jailed for ten years in August 2010 after being caught with cocaine worth £700,000. The prison term was later cut to six years and nine months on appeal.

The day after Kelbie was shot at the gym, a man was assaulted by a gang of men at the Portobello yard owned by Richardson’s father, Mark senior.

Superintendent Matt Richards said: “We received a call on Monday night about a firearm being discharged in Ratho Station. Several witnesses spoke of hearing the noise of the firearm. Officers attended the scene straight away and it was clear to them they were dealing with a significant firearm discharge. Forensic examinations were carried out by specialist firearms officers and scenes of crime officer on Monday night and into yesterday.”

Supt Richards said that people were inside the home during the shooting, but they were uninjured.

The walls of the property were struck by at least two bullets but police have not disclosed exactly how many shots were fired. Supt Richards added: “Additional patrols are being deployed in the area to reassure the community and we have spoken to schools and various businesses. We do not believe this to be random.”

In October last year, Kelbie was ordered to pay back £38,000 after admitting carrying out a mortgage scam. He earlier pleaded guilty to £145,000 in mortgage frauds to buy flats in the Capital, which he renovated and then sold on at a profit.

Sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Kelbie was fined £4125 and had £34,000 confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard Kelbie exploited the ease in obtaining the loans from sub-prime brands associated with major lenders prior to the credit crunch.

Forensic accountants calculated that £351,370.13 could not be accounted for legitimately and was Kelbie’s “criminal benefit”, but the Crown Office said that the £34,000 represented “the full amount which is available to us at this time”.

Police are conducting door-to-door inquiries following the latest shooting, as well as scouring CCTV.

Supt Richards said: “This incident took place close to one of the main routes to and from Edinburgh. It is always busy with passing traffic. I would appeal to any member of the public, either locally, or who may have been passing through Ratho Station at or around 9.30pm on Monday and who saw anything to contact us urgently.

“It is imperative that we trace the individual involved in this incident. The consequences of a weapon being discharged in the manner which happened last night may have been extremely serious.

“We believe that a firearm was discharged and that this was not a random act. We are keen to speak to any member of the public who saw or heard anything suspicious, or who thinks they may have information about those responsible.”

Police stand by closure decision

POLICE Scotland bosses have defended their decision to close one of the Capital’s main arterial routes for 15 hours – saying public safety must come first.

Thousands of people were caught up in rush hour travel chaos as a result of the A8 being shut between the airport and Newbridge.

The step lead to criticism police had overreacted – and meant countless people missing appointments and turning up late for work.

Many disgruntled people caught in the mayhem took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. Rangers’ striker Nicky Clark, 22, complained it made him late for training – @nickyclark91 said: “3 hours it took us this morning to get to training!! Traffic in Edinburgh was a shambles!!!!”

NYcheesy‏@NYcheesy wrote: “Jeezo, police didn’t do a great job of properly informing about A8 (Glasgow Rd) being closed between airport and Ratho (both directions.)”

But superintendent Matt Richards said it was a measured response to a serious incident.

He said: “We worked long and hard to get the crime scene back to normal for the community and because it’s a major arterial route.

“Given the seriousness of the incident, and given the dangers to the public and our officers, we had no choice but to close the road.

“It was not a decision taken lightly but we had to put safety first.

“We opened the road again as soon as it became possible.”

Neil Greig, spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said a closure of this type was “unprecedented” in Edinburgh.

He said: “It is the first time I have heard of a major road into Edinburgh being closed in these circumstances.

“The issue is the same for traffic accidents where police close the road for six hours because they are dealing with a possible crime scene.

“I presume they didn’t take the decision lightly.

“It underlines that it is very difficult to communicate with people in a queue, why they are queueing.”

Caught in the trap

FED-up Shauni Allan, 20, had been due to fly out of Edinburgh to the US via France at 9.15am yesterday, and was left with a £400 bill following the upset.

The beauty therapist, who set off from Falkirk at 5.30am with four hours to make her flight to the US via Paris, never reached the airport.

She and step-dad, Jim Callaghan, encountered five-mile tailbacks and had to re-book their flights to Nebraska for the following day.

She said: “I am really annoyed. It has cost us a lot of money for something that wasn’t our fault. There was nothing on the news that the road had been shut. Then we found out gunshots were heard at 9.30pm the night before so why hadn’t the police put it out that the road would be closed?

“When we got closer to Edinburgh the traffic was terrible. ”

Food for thought

BUSINESSES in the Capital suffered from a knock-on effect of the hefty delays. Campbells Prime Meat in Linlithgow, which supplies top restaurants including The Kitchin, Leith, were unable to make deliveries. Taxis also cashed in as passengers were caught in the lengthy tailbacks. With meters running – many clocked up colossal fares – and still had to ask for the cash. Edinburgh Airport only had official notice of around 50 passengers affected – but the actual number is likely to be much higher.