'Truly appalling' ordeal of Fife OAP targeted by ex-Army sniper robber on the run from prison

A former British Army sniper who robbed a terrified OAP in her own home in Fife while on the run from prison has been jailed for six years.

By Stephen Wilkie
Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:45 pm

Garry Roughley, 39, pounced on Helen Ritchie after lying in wait outside her house in Crossford, Fife on May 4, 2018.

He bound and gagged the 76-year-old widow, stole her jewellery and bank cards after forcing her to reveal PIN numbers and cut phone lines before fleeing the scene.

Mrs Ritchie was left blindfolded with her wrists bound with cable ties fixing her to a chair and tape over her mouth. She was found by hours later a neighbour who went to check why a light was on late at night.

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Jailed: Thug robber Roughley

Roughley remained at large for more than two years despite a large-scale police probe and a Crimewatch TV appeal.

Prosecutor Eric Robertson told an earlier court hearing that there was a further appeal in May 2020 on the two year anniversary of the raid and Roughley was recognised by a former prison officer.

Mr Robertson said: “The prison officer identified him as someone he knew from HMP Altcourse (in Liverpool) between 2016 and 2018.

“He (Roughley) had a job in prison and the guard had spent time in his company.

“He was also aware he had been transferred to an open prison.”

Police were then alerted leading to Roughley being traced to Glasgow then later Newcastle where he was eventually caught.

Roughley – who had spent at least a year on the run living in Edinburgh – was arrested in Newcastle nearly two years later, in October 2020.

At the earlier the court heard Mrs Ritchie was grabbed while outside the house and ordered to her knees.

Roughley – who was armed with a knife - yelled: “Woman...shut up and you will not get hurt.”

Mr Robertson said: “He asked was there a man in the house, but she told him her husband had died.

“He then said: ‘There was someone here last night’.”

Roughley demanded the PIN numbers for her bank cards threatening he would “return” if he did not get them.

The jewellery stolen included rings, a brooch, a pearl necklace and a watch.

Roughley was also linked by detectives to a stolen Vauxhall Mokka and £200 being withdrawn using a stolen bank card at a local ATM.

He pled guilty on April 21 at the High Court at Glasgow.

And at the High Court in Edinburgh today he was was sentenced to six years behind bars plus a further three years on licence.

Following the case, Detective Inspector Kelly McEwan of Fife Division Public Protection Unit said: "This was a truly appalling crime and one of the most shocking that I have experienced in over 22 years police service.

"Garry Roughley left the elderly victim gagged and tied to a chair with no means of escape or summoning help.

"Had it not been for the good fortune of her neighbour spotting her light still on at a late hour and going to check on her, the consequences could have been catastrophic.”

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