A gun-wielding robber from Methil, who abandoned a raid on a bookmaker after an employee called his bluff, was today (Wednesday) jailed for three years.
Barry Shepherd went into the premises and handed over a demand note, warning he would shoot his victim in the face – but Peter Morris read it and tore it up.
Former soldier Shepherd (40) then pulled out a handgun, which the betting shop worker thought was an imitation.
Mr Morris challenged the robber to shoot him but the raider took to his heels and fled.
Shepherd had already carried out a successful robbery at a nearby filling station nine days earlier when he got away with £400.
A judge told Shepherd at the High Court in Edinburgh he would have faced a four-and-a-half-year prison term for the offences, but for his guilty pleas.
Lady Scott also ordered he should be supervised for 10 months at the end of his jail sentence.
Shepherd said: “Thank you.” after the judge finished sentencing him.
Lady Scott told Shepherd she accepted the offending was “out of character”. She said: “You have a good record of employment, which also included army service in Bosnia at a young age.”
Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan said it seemed that was where Shepherd’s substance abuse had really started.
He said it was “rather ham-fisted” offending, with no attempt by Shepherd to mask his identity at premises covered by CCTV.
Shepherd, of Keir Hardie Street, had gone into the bookmakers Scotbet, in Ferry Road, Edinburgh, on January 27 this year and handed over a note he’d written on a betting slip, stating: “Be quiet. Fill the bag with cash or I will shoot you in the face. Chop Chop!!”
He passed it to Mr Morris, who was working alone at the time, and put a bag on the counter.
But the court earlier heard Mr Morris read the threatening demand and tore it up before Shepherd pulled out the gun.
Advocate depute Ross Macfarlane said: “Mr Morris challenged Shepherd to shoot him but the accused exited the premises, leaving the note and paper bag on the counter.”
Shepherd’s abortive raid came the day after police released CCTV images to the media of the successful robbery he had earlier carried out at a 24-hour garage.
Shepherd got away with £400 after staging an assault and robbery at a BP filling station in Ferry Road on January 18.
Mr Macfarlane said police received information that the man in the CCTV images was Shepherd and, when they traced a landlady at an address where he had lived, she said he had shown her a bright blue, metal-looking ball bearing pistol.
Shepherd told her he had used it to shoot at mice in a flat and had fired the gun, which she described as “fast and loud”. She had held the gun and said it was heavy and realistic.
Police found a number of ball bearings in the flat but the weapon was never recovered.
Shepherd, a former chef, previously admitted assaulting employee Dilwerjit Singh at the filling station by pointing an imitation gun at him, threatening violence, demanding money and robbing him of cash.
He also pled guilty to attempting to rob Mr Morris by making threats of violence, demanding money and pointing an imitation gun at him.
Mr Macfarlane said Shepherd had pulled out the gun and pointed it at Mr Singh during the first raid and told him: “Just give me the money or I’ll shoot.”
Police looking for the robber had later gone to a girlfriend’s flat in Edinburgh but were told he had not lived there for several months.
She said Shepherd had admitted he was responsible for the robberies and, on the night of the first raid, he had come to her address afterwards and sat on a wall, crying.
He had said he was going to go and visit a relative in Fife and then he would hand himself in to police. Shepherd turned up at Levenmouth police station on February 12, saying he knew the police were looking for him.
He was asked to give a handwriting sample but declined to do so, the court heard.
Mr Keenan said Shepherd had lost his job and added: “It would seem he committed these offences at a particularly low point in his life.”