AN armed robber who held pharmacy and post office staff at gunpoint to feed his £1000-a-day crack-cocaine habit has been jailed for five years and seven months.
Ross Thomson, 27, from Bathgate, admitted robbing the store at Kirknewton, on October 10 last year, of £16,629.76 of cash and medication.
His co-accused Maurice McIntyre, 33, of Fauldhouse, who brandished a machete and then kept a lookout during the robbery, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Prosecutor Bernard Ablett told the High Court in Glasgow that Thomson and McIntyre entered the shop around 4pm wearing balaclavas.
Mr Ablett said: “The assistant was confronted by Ross Thomson who was carrying a rifle and aggressively shouting ‘Give me money, empty the till’.
“Maurice McIntyre produced a meat cleaver and pointed to the till, clearly making demands for it to be opened.
“Ross Thomson brandished the rifle at two employees and continually demanded money.”
At one point Thomson shouted at the employees: “Open the safe or I’ll shoot.”
Mr Ablett added: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the employees, who feared they would be shot.”
During the raid McIntyre stood outside the premises armed with the meat cleaver and told a man who tried to enter the shop to ‘F*** off.”
When police searched a house in Fauldhouse they found Thomson’s phone which had more than 100 internet searches for “gun” “pump action” and “shotguns for sale”.
He had also made two internet searches for the opening hours of Kirknewton Post Office. There were also a number of text messages which indicated Thomson owed a significant amount of money to a drug dealer. The rifle was found in McIntyre’s home.
Solicitor advocate Ian Bryce said Thomson was a self-employed building contractor, adding: “I’m asked by Mr Thomson to express his remorse for what happened. The offence was committed while he was under a crack-cocaine addiction which was costing him in excess of £1000 a day.”
Unemployed McIntyre told police he had a £40-a-day heroin habit.
McIntyre’s solicitor advocate Raymond McMenamin said: “My client has never done anything as serious as this before. His involvement came about as a result of his involvement with drugs since 2011.”
The court was told that the rifle was a German manufactured Diana model spring operated air rifle capable of discharging airgun pellets.
Thomson has a previous conviction in 2012 for assault and robbery using a sword for which he was sentenced to two years.
Judge Lord Burns told the pair: “This was plainly a carefully planned robbery. You both armed yourselves and you plainly knew that the stash of cash and drugs would be found. Ross Thomson, you threatened to shoot the staff and you appear to be the main perpetrator.”
Lord Burns said that but for his early plea Thomson would have been jailed for seven and a half years and McIntyre would have been jailed for six years.