Pensioner slashed in face as maniac goes on the rampage

A THUG attacked two pensioners in the space of five minutes – leaving one with a six-inch wound to his face – in broad daylight on one of Edinburgh's busiest streets.

Frank McGeachie, 83, was slashed as he walked up Easter Road yesterday afternoon. He is believed to have just taken money out of a cash machine.

Police were last night hunting his attacker, as it emerged the same man had punched a 76-year-old woman in the face nearby just minutes earlier.

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Police swarmed the area to question witnesses and searched for the knife in bins and drains. They were also examining CCTV pictures of the scene taken from local shops.

Both attacks were said to be unprovoked. The first happened at around 3pm, when the suspect approached the woman on Easter Road and punched her in the face.

Minutes later Mr McGeachie was walking home after a quiet drink when he was slashed with a knife, leaving him with a six-inch wound from his ear to his mouth.

Following the attacks, the suspect was seen to walk away towards London Road, before he disappeared.

Mr McGeachie was taken by ambulance to the Royal Infirmary, where he is said to be doing well.

Eileen Bowser, a bar attendant at Middleton's pub, said Mr McGeachie came in most days to enjoy a pint and read the paper. She said everyone was shocked that the "quiet, pleasant" man had been the victim of an attack.

She said: "We are all shocked. He had just been sitting there reading his paper. He keeps himself to himself and would never hurt anyone. Fortunately we were told the wound isn't life-threatening. It was a clean cut across his cheek. I think he will just need some stitches."

Mr McGeachie is thought to live just off nearby London Road. He had previously worked at the Royal Blind School, and had spent several years working in Africa. He was also a keen amateur photographer.

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His nephew Roger McGeachie, 70, from Wester Hailes, said: "We can't believe this has happened to him. He was just walking home in the middle of the day. He's very quiet, and he loved photography. The whole family will be really upset about this."

His friend George Comisky, 76, said Mr McGeachie tended to visit the pub most days and was very well-liked. He said: "It's a real shame this has happened at his time of life. He is a very pleasant, intelligent man. I think he was just walking up the street, minding his own business when it happened. He liked having a look in the charity shops."

Ewan Wales, 66, added: "I'm almost frightened to walk up the street now."

Javid Iqbal, manager of a nearby newsagent, said that Easter Road was normally very safe.

He said: "I just came into work at about 4pm, and there were police all over the street. They were asking people in all the shops if they'd seen anything, and asking if we had CCTV. This is just crazy. It's usually very quiet here, and there's never any trouble."

The suspect is described as 30-40 years old, around 5ft 7in to 5ft 10in tall, slim to medium build, with dark hair, heavy stubble and a dark complexion. He was wearing dark clothing.

A police spokesman said: "These attacks were entirely unprovoked, and in both cases, extremely shocking. The elderly man has been taken to the ERI where he is receiving treatment for serious facial injuries.

"While the female victim did not require hospital treatment, she is understandably traumatised as a result of her ordeal. We need anyone who witnessed these attacks, or who has any information that can help us identify the suspect, to contact police as a matter of urgency"