A TEENAGE thug who admitted killing a Chinese takeaway driver with a single punch had taken part in a terrifying robbery at the home of a disabled mother and her four children just months earlier, it can be revealed today.
• John Reid
John Reid, 16, has pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Simon San, who was fatally injured in an attack by a group of youths in Lochend Road last month.
The Evening News can now reveal that the teenager had been dealt with by the authorities in March for his role in a raid on a house in West Pilton Place.
During the robbery, Reid and two other thugs burst into the home of the family, who were threatened with being "stabbed to death" if they resisted.
The mother described to the Evening News how the robbers forced her 14-year-old daughter to go round their home and point out valuables to be stolen.
Reid's accomplice, Thomas McLellan, 19, was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison in April for his role in subjecting the victims to what a judge described as "appalling" ordeals.
Reid, who was only 15 at the time of that offence, was guilty of assault and robbery and placed under a supervision order by the Children's Panel.
That meant the teenager was free to carry out the August 11 attack on Vietnamese-born Mr San, 40, who was set upon just yards away from his family's takeaway business.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday that Mr San fell back after Reid's punch and struck his head on the pavement.
Mr San used his mobile phone to call the police as the attack was taking place and his desperate plea for help was recorded.
Surgeons at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary could not save him and Mr San died the following day from a fractured skull and internal bleeding.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday that during the evening of August 11 plainclothed detectives were patrolling the area because of reports of antisocial behaviour and noted a group hanging round outside the Loch Inn pub, next to the Chinese takeaway.
At about 10pm, Mr San returned and his Smart Car was surrounded by the accused Reid and other youths. "They started rocking it with the deceased still in it," said Mr Prentice.
Mr San got out with his mobile phone, indicating he was calling police.
The operator heard him say: "Youngsters, a group of them, making trouble."
The phone call also recorded the sound of a disturbance and young people screaming before the line went quiet.
The court heard that witnesseses outside the Loch Inn saw youths force Mr San back towards a wall. Then Reid came forward and punched him once in the face as Mr San was still on the phone. Bystander Callum Milne, 46, later described the assault to police.
He said: "The driver was pole-axed and fell right back on the ground. He did not stagger, he fell straight down. The back of his head connected with a flat section of the pavement."
Mr Milne and others tried to help Mr San as blood gushed from the back of his head and he struggled to breathe. Shirley San, the victim's sister, also ran from the takeaway to try to help as they waited for an ambulance.
In court, Judge Lord Matthews described the youths pouncing on Mr San as he pulled up in his Smart car as "unacceptable feral activity".
Mr Prentice added: "The family of the deceased are strongly of the view that the attack was racially-motivated but the police investigation has not found any evidence to support that."
Solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson, defending Reid, said his client maintained there had never been any racial element to his crime.
Reid, of Ferry Road Drive, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and faces sentence next month when background reports have been prepared. He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on October 13. Three other teenage boys, aged 16, 15 and 14, still face charges relating to the death of Mr San and are set to appear in court at a later date.
Following Reid's guilty plea, a police spokeswoman said it was the result of an "intensive investigation".
"From the outset, it was a priority to identify whoever was responsible for this violent unprovoked attack, and as a result John Reid was identified and charged in connection with Mr San's death. However, our thoughts are with Mr San's family first and foremost."
The Pilton robbery which Reid took part in was first revealed by the Evening News earlier this year but as a 15-year-old Reid could not be identified.
The victim, a disabled mother described how the robbers crept into her home at around 11.50pm on January 11. She said at the time: "I was told again and again that me and my kids would be stabbed to death if we didn't help them."
A loyal, hard-working man
AS the court heard the details of the attack which led to Simon San's death, his family sobbed in the viewing gallery.
Originally from Vietnam, Mr San was the youngest of six children. He obtained British citizenship after the family moved to Edinburgh when he was 12.
He worked as a waiter in a number of restaurants and for two years had been delivering meals for his sister, who ran the Yong Hua Gardens Takeaway.
He lived with and cared for his two elderly parents in Glenallan Drive in Liberton.
Outside court yesterday, campaigning solicitor Aamer Anwar, who had accompanied the victim's relatives, said: "The family have many questions and concerns and will meet Lothian and Borders Police next week.
"The San family will never stop grieving for the loss of their much-loved innocent son and brother."
The family described Mr San as a hard-working, loyal man who never caused anyone any harm.
Thuy Ly, a close friend of Simon's said that his loss had devastated the family.
She said: "He lived with his parents, and they've been so sad about what has happened. We all have."