Thug tried to rob OAP outside Edinburgh cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter

A female thug attacked a frail pensioner and attempted to steal her handbag in a bid to pay off her drug debts.

By Alexander Lawrie
Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 7:00 am
Attack scene: JK Rowling's favourite Edinburgh cafe
Attack scene: JK Rowling's favourite Edinburgh cafe

Mary McCallum followed the vulnerable 73-year-old woman through the streets of Edinburgh before grabbing at her leather bag in the city centre last December.

The victim screamed for help during the attempted bag snatch and two brave members of the public rushed to the OAP’s aid and held on to McCallum until the police arrived on the scene.

McCallum, 32, appeared from custody at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where she pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery on her elderly victim.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Procurator fiscal depute Rosie Cook told the court the 73-year-old woman was walking in the city’s Grassmarket when she was approached by McCallum at around 4.50pm on December 9 last year.

Following a brief exchange the pensioner then made her way onto George IV Bridge where she noticed McCallum was continuing to follow her.

McCallum, from Glasgow, then pounced on the woman outside the Elephant House cafe - where JK Rowling wrote most of the original Harry Potter book - by grabbing at the strap of her leather handbag.

The pensioner began “shouting for help” and two members of the public were said to have rushed over and fought off her attacker.

One man held onto McCallum while the second called the police who arrived on the scene within minutes.

Ms Cook said: “The accused was still being detained by the member of the public when the police arrived.”

Lawyer Emma Templeton said her client had been using and selling drugs at the time and carried out the robbery attempt as she did not have the money to give to her suppliers.

Mrs Templeton said the incident was over “fairly quickly” and there had been “no injury” to the elderly victim.

The brief added McCallum, described as a prisoner of Cornton Vale in Stirling, had been “under the influence” at the time and her “life had spiralled out of control”.

Sheriff Donald Corke deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of social work reports and remanded McCallum in custody.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.