Balaclava gang jailed for 21 years

editorial image

An armed gang who staged a terrifying gunpoint raid after forcing their way into a Kirkcaldy flat have been jailed for a total of 21 years.

The balaclava clad intruders carried a handgun, a crowbar and a machete as they burst into the home of Dwayne Kinner who was with his cousin Nicholas Roberts, known as Ollie .

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the victims believed they were going to be shot after the gun was pointed at their heads and another robber threatened he was going to cut their fingers off.

James Mackie (30), Gordon Ellis (24), Derek Finlay (31) and Scott Smith (23) made off with a haul of £2500 and other valuables following the robbery at the flat in Viceroy Street, Kirkcaldy in January 2015.

A judge told the robbers: “You have pled guilty to an extremely serious offence. In a premeditated and carefully planned enterprise, with a chosen victim, you armed yourself with weapons some potentially lethal.”

Michael O’Grady QC said: “The idea that anyone should suffer such terror in their own home is utterly beyond the pale.”

Today (Thursday) judge told Mackie and Finlay, who both have lengthy criminal records, that is was clear that they played the major role in the offence and jailed each of them for six and a half years.

He sentenced Ellis and Smith to four years imprisonment each and said: “It is clear your roles in the attack were lesser ones.”

Among the items taken in the raid was a mobile phone on which Mr Kinner had installed a tracking app in case it was lost or stolen.

Hours later he arrived at Kirkcaldy police station with a tablet containing a screenshot showing that in the early hours of January 8 his Sony Experia phone was at a house in Stewart Street, in Dysart.

When officers attended at the address Finlay told them: “There’s no a firearm but I’ve got a phone.” They also recovered computers, games, a sound bar and £710.

Mr Kinner, who was 25 at the time, later identified the computer equipment and games as his belongings taken in the robbery.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that following the raid Mackie had given a woman a gold watch and asked her to keep it for him. She had thrown it away in a panic but took police to the area and the watch taken in the robbery was recovered.

The gun, which was discovered to be an air pistol, was later found behind a kickboard in a kitchen at a house in Glenrothes which Finlay had previously had access to. Advocate Ashley Edwards QC said it had the appearance of a firearm.Mackie, of Kirkcaldy, Ellis, of Cardenden, Finlay, a prisoner, and Smith of Cardenden all earlier pled guilty to assaulting and robbing the victims.

Defence counsel Gavin Anderson, for Ellis, said he was “fearful” of Mackie and for him the offence was wholly out of character.

Tony Lenahan, counsel for Finlay, said: “The prior agreement was that this would be without question a bloodless coup.” He added that when tempers rose Finlay had taken steps to calm things down.

Krista Johnston, solicitor advocate for Smith, said: “He does recognise that, in hindsight, this would have been a terrifying experience for anyone.”

Ian Bryce, for Mackie, said he had found himself in difficult financial circumstances after his benefits were stopped.