‘Joke’ raid on Lanark shop backfires on prank gunman

Bargain B's on Lanark High Street.
Bargain B's on Lanark High Street.

A man wearing a motorcycle helmet strode into a Lanark High Street shop one night and told its sole female, member of staff: “I want all your money. I have a gun.”

John Wilson, 38, of Strath Hallidale, Law, later told police officers that he wasn’t an armed robber but had only been playing a joke on her.

The police didn’t see the funny side of what he’d done, however, and Wilson duly appeared in the dock of Lanark Sheriff Court last Thursday for deferred sentencing.

He admitted the charge that, at the Bargain B’s off-licence on May 15 last year, he’d behaved in a threatening manner likely to cause fear to shop assistant Alison Frew.

Depute fiscal Ziad Hassain told the court that the incident happened at 9.40pm, shortly before the shop closed for the night.

A colleague of Ms Frew was outside at the rear, disposing of that day’s rubbish, when Wilson drew up outside the shopfront on his motorcycle, parking it on the pavement.

He then walked into the shop still wearing his helmet.

Ms Frew asked what he wanted and he replied: “I want all your money. I’m serious. I have a gun.”

The shop assisant later told police that her heart “started pumping”, but she was then taken aback when Wilson placed his Npower gas card on the counter and asked her to top it up, offering the required £10 note.

Obviously thinking that Ms Frew now realised the robbery was a joke, Wilson then asked: “Would you have given me the money?”, to which she replied ‘no’. Wilson then asked what she would have done, and she said that she had a panic button under the counter for such cases.

Wilson replied: “That’s handy to know,” before leaving the shop with his gas card.

The store manager, off duty at the time, was phoned and told of the incident and she, in turn, contacted the police.

Officers later interviewed Wilson, and he said: “It was a carry-on. I’ve done it before. It was a joke.”

Sheriff Nikola Stewart asked if there was a “psychiatric history” to the case only to be told there was none.

The solicitor acting for Wilson, Kevin McCarron, said that sheriff Robert Weir had, at an earlier hearing, viewed the shop’s CCTV footage of the incident, which, he claimed, showed Ms Frew taking the matter as a joke.

Sheriff Stewart deferred the case further until June 7 for Sheriff Weir to pass sentence on Wilson.