Jailed: IT analyst who staged Molotov raid on party with stockbroker wife

A NEIGHBOUR terrorised pupils with an air rifle and a mock Molotov cocktail over a Hogmanay party, the High Court in Edinburgh was told yesterday.

Systems analyst James Howat-Hurst was jailed for two years, and his stockbroker wife, Sandra, was given 250 hours' unpaid community work for her part in the row.

The couple were filmed by their own security cameras as they challenged student Clarissa Doig over their garden fence.

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Strathclyde Police took the incident seriously and sent in armed officers. "It was like something out of Miami Vice," said Clarissa's mother, Iris Doig, 58, as she left the High Court.

The court heard that Clarissa, then a 17-year-old pupil at Glasgow Academy, was with friends in the summerhouse of her parents' Kilmarnock mansion while her mother and father went to see in the New Year with family in the north of Scotland.

The Howat-Hursts, both 49, were trying to watch television as the party guests next door set off fireworks and sang Auld Lang Syne.

Uadvocate depute Bernard Ablett, prosecuting, said: "As the evening progressed, they became increasingly annoyed at the volume of noise coming from the party."

The couple phoned police, who told them it was Hogmanay and people would be letting off fireworks. "This advice appears to have been the catalyst leading to an extraordinary loss of self-control by both accused."

Mr Ablett said James Howat-Hurst approached the boundary fence yelling, before being joined in the garden by his wife, who was holding an air pistol.

The CCTV footage showed James Howat-Hurst holding a plastic bottle of methylated spirits with a cloth wick and a box of matches.

The couple strode across to the summerhouse and Mrs Howat-Hurst tapped on the window with her pistol. By this time, her husband was carrying a large air rifle. Mr Howat-Hurst lit the wick in the plastic bottle, told the guests it was a petrol bomb and waved it in the faces of Ms Doig and an 18-year-old friend, Kiaren Black. He threw the firebomb on to the roof of the summerhouse, but, as he did so, the burning wick fell out.

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During the row which followed, the guns were cocked and waved about, the court heard. Mr Howat-Hurst hit Mr Black on the neck with the butt of the air rifle, and the youth then threw beer over him, before the couple went back to their home.

Members of the police tactical firearms unit surrounded the cottage and ordered them to come out. Mrs Howat-Hurst was in bed when she was detained.

When James Howat-Hurst was confronted with the allegation that he had a firebomb, he replied: "If I did that, I am a f****** idiot."

James Howat-Hurst admitted a breach of the peace, possessing a firearm with intent to commit an offence and assaulting Mr Black by hitting him on the neck with the air-rifle butt.

Sandra Howat-Hurst admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause persons to believe unlawful violence would be used.