A polite Big Issue seller apologised to shop staff as he robbed them, telling them: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
The comment was made by James Spence, (30), after he showed two women a menacing hypodermic needle in a Fife Co-op store.
Then, in a raid on an Edinburgh sweet shop two weeks later, Spence produced a 6-inch knife and said: “I am sorry but I am going to have to take all the money from your till.”
A judge heard this week that at the time of the robberies Spence, of no fixed address, was still on licence after being released early from a previous prison sentence.
Lord Bannatyne called for a background report and remanded Spence in custody pending sentence next month.
Spence admitted robbing staff at a Co-op in Lauder Road, Kirkcaldy, of £150 on August 15 this year.
Advocate depute Andrew Brown QC, prosecuting, told the High Court in Edinburgh that Spence seemed to be muttering something about the price of cigarettes until Vicky Vettrino, who was working at the till, realised he was demanding cash.
Spence showed her an uncapped needle, which was also seen by her colleague, Karen Tarvet, said Mr Brown. “During the robbery he wasn’t overtly aggressive,” added the prosecutor.
Spence further admitted a robbery at Crawfords Candy in Great Junction Street, Leith, on August 28 when he got away with £60.
Shopkeeper Marlene Crawford was alone when Spence asked for all her money. She asked if he was joking and, knife in hand,Spence replied that he was not.
“Please don’t do anything, I’ve got a little girl,” pleaded Ms Crawford. “I’m sorry, but if you don’t give me the money I will stab you,” said Spence, pointing the knife at her.
As he left the shop with the till’s float, Spence repeated “I’m sorry,” said Mr Brown.
He continued: “Ms Crawford told the police at the time that she was in fear of her life and took the threat as real.”