18st man spared jail after breaking leg in robbery

A hapless thief was shown mercy on Wednesday after a sheriff heard he had broken his leg - falling into the shop he was robbing.

Perth Sheriff Court, where McLeod was shown mercy. Picture: Simon Armstrong
Perth Sheriff Court, where McLeod was shown mercy. Picture: Simon Armstrong

Stuart McLeod hatched an elaborate plan to steal from a DIY superstore by clambering along the netting roof of its garden department late at night.

But the 18-stone thief was too heavy and plunged through the net, falling 30 feet to the ground below and smashing his leg in 11 places.

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However, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis took a sympathetic view of McLeod’s painful mishap and told him he would escape punishment if he behaved until November.

The sheriff wished McLeod “many happy returns” after being told he was celebrating his 47th birthday yesterday in the dock at Perth Sheriff Court.

And he told him that if he remained of good behaviour until November 19 he would be admonished in relation to the break-in at B & Q in Perth.

Instead of getting away with the power tools he had stashed behind a shed the previous day, McLeod had to scream in agony to get emergency help.

The court was told McLeod tried to sneak in through the netting roof late at night but the burly 18-stone thief caused the metal support pillar to collapse.

As he lay in excruciating pain for more than 30 minutes, McLeod was heard moaning: “I’m getting too old for this.”

Store keyholder Victoria Guild told how she found McLeod stricken on the ground in agony after being called to the Perth superstore shortly before midnight.

She said: “A person walking by had heard someone shouting for help. The person was in the garden centre and they were injured.

“There was a man lying in the corner in a lot of pain. He sounded like he was in a lot of pain. I got to see who the person was. Where the person landed was right in the corner so it didn’t trigger the alarm sensor.

“He had a hooded top on with the hood up. Because there was blood we were kept out of the way. There was only one way he could have got in without cutting the fence, and the fence wasn’t cut.

“I was a bit alarmed by the size of the scissors he had in his pocket. If he had fallen from the top of that pole and landed on them I wouldn’t like to have seen what would have happened to him.”

She told the court that she estimated McLeod had fallen as much as 30 feet, and that the power tools were found during a search the next morning.

PC Craig Gardiner told the trial: “I could see the accused. He was lying on his back and clearly had a significant leg injury.

“He was moaning in pain. I specifically remember he said ‘I’m too old for this.’ It looked like a fairly clean cut in the net. It was the kind of net you would use on a vegetable patch.”

McLeod, Primrose Crescent, Perth, denied the charge and claimed he had climbed up to retrieve keys hurled by his former partner Marilyn McKenzie during a row.

He said: “I had my foot on top of the hoarding and had a look about. I half turned and down I went. I lost my balance. I crashed right through it.

“I’m six foot three, 18 stone or something. My leg was snapped in bits. I snapped my fibia and tibia in 11 places. My bones were sticking out my trousers.”

He said he needed three operations and was left with plates in his leg. He also admitted hearing the witnesses joke about him as he lay in agony on the ground.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis rejected McLeod’s version and found him guilty of being in the Perth B & Q on 12 February 2012 with intent to commit theft.

“I don’t believe what you said. You had scissors. The net was cut. You said you had done something stupid and that was undoubtedly the case.

“You were stupid to try and get in the way you did. I am tempted to say that what happened to you was as good a deterrent as anything else.

“I will take account of the significant injury you sustained as a result of this stupid escapade.

“Quite what you were thinking - apart from getting ill-gotten gains - goodness only knows.”