Lee Campbell was today handed a five-year extended sentence for the crimes after being caught by what the Sheriff described as a “quite remarkable coincidence”.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, Sheriff Donald Corke told Campbell: “These were grave assaults and robberies, combined with chilling threats to your victims. I have no choice but to impose a lengthy period in custody.
“The use of a knife will not be tolerated.”
He sentenced Campbell to a six year custodial sentence, reduced to four because of his guilty plea, with a 12 months extension.
Campbell, a prisoner in Saughton, pled guilty on March 19 to assaulting and robbing 23-year old Kataryna Czarnecka of £130 at Tradecut in Easter Road on January 2 this year and to assaulting and robbing 43-year old Lynn Aitchison of £165 in Easter Road three days later on January 5. Sentence was deferred for reports. Campbell had previous convictions for assault and robbery.
In the first attack, Campbell pointed a knife with a four inch blade at Ms Czarnecka, who was working in the shop with another member of staff, and demanded: “Give me the money”.
Fiscal Depute Isabel Clark said the victim at first said she did not understand as she did not speak English. Campbell repeated his demand and began making stabbing motions with the knife. Ms Czarnecka shouted for help and the other assistant joined her. Campbell continued to demand money at knife point and was told it was in a drawer. He opened the drawer, took £130 and left.
The Fiscal said throughout the robbery Campbell appeared “quite calm”. CCTV footage, however, showed the two members of staff to be “upset, distressed and visibly shaken”.
Three days later, Ms Aitchison left her work to get something to eat. As she was walking through Norton Park she saw the accused coming up behind her. He then stopped directly in front of her, produced a knife, pointed it directly at her stomach and demanded: “Give me all the money you’ve got”.
The Fiscal said Ms Aitchison was frightened, opened her purse and handed Campbell £15, but he then demanded more, demanding her bank card and warning: “There will be repercussions. I know where you stay”.
He then led her at knifepoint to a cash machine on Easter Road, telling Ms Aitchison to “stop crying and drawing attention to him”, before telling her: “I need to get to Newcastle as my daughter is dying”.
As they approached the ATM at the top of Easter Road, Campbell told the woman: “I don’t want to hurt you, but it is going to be busy. Don’t draw attention. I know your name from the bank card and there will be repercussions”.
The Fiscal said Campbell then took £150 from her account, at which point Ms Aitchison grabbed her card, ran to a nearby shop and asked for the police to be called. Campbell ran off.
It was then, the Fiscal said, that “By a quite remarkable coincidence the complainer in charge one was driving her car and saw the accused walking in front of her. She contacted the police and they detained Campbell as he walked out of a common stair. He was searched and found to be in possession of a knife and £150 in cash.
Defence solicitor, Sarah Quinn, told Sheriff Corke that as soon as Campbell heard the evidence of the women he instructed her to enter a guilty plea.
“Because of his drug misuse, his recollection was almost nil” she said. She added: “He is under no illusions as to what will happen to him”.