Man jailed after alcohol-fuelled digger ram raid in Scottish town

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A man was jailed after an alcohol fuelled rampage with a digger caused carnage in a Scottish town.

Duncan Elrick stole a digger after an all-day drinking session – and trashed a Spar store as he tried to make off with an cash machine.

The Spar store in Keith, Moray (pictured) suffered thousands of pounds of damage after the digger (stock image) crashed into the shop. Picture: Google and WikiCommons

The Spar store in Keith, Moray (pictured) suffered thousands of pounds of damage after the digger (stock image) crashed into the shop. Picture: Google and WikiCommons

He was jailed on Tuesday (30 April) at Elgin Sheriff Court for his “completely haphazard and unprofessional” crime.

Elrick, 35, caused £45,000 damage to the shop and the digger. He fled with three bottles of whisky.

He went out at 3am to buy more alcohol (on 19 January 2019), the court heard.

But the shop was closed so he decided, on the spur of the moment, to steal a digger parked nearby that was being used for roadworks in the area. He’d heard recent news reports of similar crimes.

Witnesses on the street watched him driving on the wrong side of the road towards the shop with the lights flashing and beeping on the vehicle.

Depute Fiscal Kevin Corrans told the court he used the arm of the digger to attack the shop front on Regent Street in Keith, Moray, and witnesses heard a loud bang at about 3.50am.

He said: “He barged into the front of the shop and used the arm to go directly through the ATM several times, with witnesses believing he was trying to break into it. With the shopfront completely destroyed, his focus still seemed to be on the ATM.

“After the incident, the police searched the vicinity and could not find any sign of the suspect but shop staff showed them footage of what happened.”

The court was shown CCTV footage of the destruction caused by Elrick, who only managed to steal three bottles of whisky from the shop and left a trail of debris in his wake.

Elrick, whose address was given in court papers as HMP Inverness, was snared after he headed back to the scene of the crime and walked past smiling and was noticed by one of the officers.

He caused £30,000 worth of damage to the building, about £15,000 of damage to the digger and the ATM had to be entirely replaced, costing £5,500.

The shop had to close for five days for repairs to be carried out, which resulted in the business losing about £5,000 worth of profit a day.

Defence solicitor Iain Jane described the crime as “completely haphazard and unprofessional” and one that was more opportunistic than planned.

He said: “My client has no rationality to what followed his bender and if he had any intention, it was to break into the shop to steal alcohol, although he was attracted by the ATM and wanted to remove it.

“There have been a number of cases of thefts of ATMs in Scotland, usually done by professional gangs and this was a haphazard attempt.

“He had no clothing to hide his appearance, put on the flashing lights in the digger and spoke to people prior to the incident and completely destroyed the ATM.”

Elrick admitted stealing a digger, attempting to force open an ATM with intent to steal, breaking into the Spar and theft, culpably and recklessly driving the digger and driving while disqualified.

Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov jailed him for two years and banned him from driving for 10 years.

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