Jailed for terrifying farmhouse break-in near Biggar

Lanark Sheriff Court
Lanark Sheriff Court
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A young man who broke into a remote farmhouse and robbed the terrified householder was jailed for two years on Wednesday.

“This was a frightening, a terrifying, attack essentially on the sanctity of someone’s home, and threats to their safety followed by thefts of their valuable possessions, all in the early morning,” Sheriff Nikola Stewart told Ross Tollan.

“That makes it one of the worst matters I have to deal with.”

Tollan (24) from Wishaw appeared from custody earlier this month and admitted breaking into Gillburn Farm, Elsrickle, on August 6 last year, assaulting Robert McMillan, repeatedly threatening him with violence, demanding money, and robbing him of his car key, car and computer.

At that stage Lanark Sheriff Court heard that two intruders broke into the farmhouse, and they told Mr McMillan: “The police will take seven minutes to get here; in the meantime we are going to do you and your wife.”

The frightened man barricaded himself in his bedroom while the intruders struck the door with something metal, still shouting and threatening him, and then the pair drove off with his Mercedes Benz.

Police officers found the Mercedes on a grass verge on the A721, and Tollan repeatedly revving it in an attempt to drive off. One officer broke a window with his baton, and had to use a spray on Tollan.

Sentence had been deferred until Wednesday for background reports, and on Wednesday a solicitor said that Tollan had “blacked out”; asked to explain that, she told Sheriff Stewart: “I think his memory is affected by the cocktail of alcohol and drugs he had taken that evening. There are patches of the events he cannot recall”.

But he had been caught red-handed in the car with the stolen computer in the back.

The solicitor said that Tollan had started offending at the age of 21.

“There has been an increase in the severity of the cases he has been coming to court for,” she said, adding that his family were supportive but were at their wits’ end with him.

Jailing Tollan, Sheriff Stewart told him: “You seem to have served your apprenticeship, and then embarked on a course of conduct which put others at risk.”

Given the offence and his record, there was no alternative to prison.

“It is sad to see a young man embarking on a career of crimes of this magnitude,” she added, drawing attention to a remark in a report that Tollan appeared to have committed the offence to fund his dysfunctional lifestyle.

She jailed him for 24 months for the assault and robbery, and eight months concurrently for driving the stolen car over the alcohol limit and without insurance, banning him for five years.