Thief who faced 47 charges convicted of just two

A SERIAL burglar who faced 47 charges of breaking into homes was convicted of just two offences, it has emerged.

Sunday, 24th April 2016, 12:42 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2016, 10:44 am
Thomas Robb

Thomas Robb was arrested in connection with a massive crime spree across the city which targeted scores of residents.

Police Scotland trumpeted his arrest last year as they announced a major success for their bid to crack down on persistent housebreakers.

And they revealed at the time that they had recovered £9000 worth of stolen property from three addresses linked to 29-year-old Robb.

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However, following a lengthy legal process, Robb was found guilty on just two counts earlier this month, and was jailed for almost two years and eight months.

When the trial started on March 30, it emerged that Robb would stand accused of 18 housebreaking charges and one of failing to turn up at court.

The remainder of the initial 47 counts were dropped by the Crown due to insufficient evidence.

On April 5, he was found guilty by a jury of intent to steal from a flat in Lothian Road and stealing a laptop from a house in Haymarket Terrace.

The remaining housebreaking charges were found ‘not proven’ by a jury. Robb pleaded guilty to failing to appear in court.

Victim Linda Sokol, 38, who returned to her ransacked home to find her cat with a cigarette burn on its head, said: “It’s a heart-sink. We all work hard for anything we have, why were there not more convictions?”

She was on the first day of a holiday when a friend called to say her Edinburgh flat had been trashed.

“The front door had been forced open and boxes with my treasured belongings had been scattered all over the place,” she said.

“Worst of all, my lovely tabby cat Cooper had a cigarette burn on his head.

“I was devastated anyone could do this.”

Robb lodged two special defences during the trial, claiming the crimes had not been committed by him, but by four other people, who all denied his claim.

He was sentenced to 200 days to follow an existing sentence, 365 days for failing to turn up to court and 404 days for the house-breaking and intended house-breaking charges – a total of 969 days.

Police Scotland said the original 47 charges against Robb were all recorded as “detected” on its system and they would only look again at the crimes if new evidence came to light.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The Crown takes housebreaking extremely seriously, and our policy to presume prosecution on petition has led to a 21 per cent increase in custodial sentences.

“Police Scotland reported 29 charges related to housebreaking for which there was insufficient evidence to take any criminal proceedings.

“The Crown took the remaining 18 charges to trial, some of which were later discontinued after witness testimony failed to provide sufficient evidence.

“Ultimately, the court was satisfied that there was enough evidence to allow the jury to consider 13 charges.

“We note their verdict and the significant period of imprisonment imposed.”