Robber choked shop worker and threatened her with pen

Arthur Cummings attacked the staff member at Oddbins. Picture: Google
Arthur Cummings attacked the staff member at Oddbins. Picture: Google
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A “wild animal” robber threatened to kill a lone woman employee during a raid on an off-licence armed with a pen.

Arthur Cummings put his victim in a choke hold and threatened her with the silver-coloured weapon during the attack at a branch of Oddbins in Edinburgh’s Brunswick Street.

The branch manager Carrie Ginniver tried to bite Cummings fingers after he covered her mouth when she attempted to press a panic alarm and shouted out that she was being attacked.

A customer, Steven McQuinn, who was coming in the shop shouted at him to let go and Cummings fled with Ms Ginniver close behind.

Mr McQuinn went to the aid of the employee who he described as “bent over double and struggling to speak”, advocate depute Andrew Brown QC told the High Court in Edinburgh.

The robbery bid was captured on CCTV and footage from it was played to the court. The judge, Lord Uist, said: “He was certainly very persistent.”

Cummings defence counsel Vincent Lunny told the court that he was ashamed of his conduct.

He said: “He described himself, having seen the video, as having acted like a wild animal.”

“His explanation, if it can be called that, is a combination of drugs and alcohol,” said the defence counsel.

Cummings, 36, admitted assaulting Ms Ginniver with intent to rob her on April 21 this year.

He repeatedly seized her by the body, put an arm around her neck, a hand over her mouth to prevent her shouting for help, held the pen against her body in an attempt to intimidate her, demanded she open the till and give him money and threatened her with violence.

Unemployed Cummings, who was living in East Lothian, has twice been jailed at the High Court for robbery and had been freed after being granted bail in February this year at Edinburgh Sheriff Court over offences mainly related to shoplifting.

Mr Brown said that when Cummings initially entered the shop Ms Ginniver, 26, immediately thought him suspicious.

After he said he intended to buy wine she went to help him and he was constantly fidgeting and searching his pockets.

He left the shop after saying he needed to speak to his wife but returned a few moments later and grabbed the employee, said the prosecutor.

Mr Brown said: “The accused began threatening her with the pen, making a threat to kill her and demanding that she open the till.”

After the incident Ms Ginniver noticed the pen lying on the counter and Cummings DNA was later found on it.

Mr Brown said the victim did not require medical help after the attack but was shaken and sore.

He said: “The witness also noticed she had a small puncture mark below her rib cage on the right hand side of her body where the accused jabbed the pen against her.”

Cummings was arrested by police in May and when charged replied: “Not guilty.”

Mr Lunny said Cummings had consumed alcohol and valium on the day of the attack along with prescription methadone and anti-psychotic drugs.

The judge deferred sentence on Cummings for the preparation of a background report with a risk assessment and remanded him in custody.