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Thief attacked Keith store owners with hammer, chisel and screwdriver

By Ali Morrison

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A THIEF who attacked shop owners in Keith with a hammer, chisel and screwdriver during a break-in has been jailed for three years.

The 38-year-old was sentenced at Inverness Sheriff Court.
The 38-year-old was sentenced at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Graham Elrick, formerly of Fraserburgh and Aberdeen, broke into the Keith Hardware Store on December 5/6 by breaking a glass door panel.

Fiscal depute Alison Young told Inverness Sheriff Court that the 38-year-old was caught on CCTV stealing a till which contained £100 from the premises.

Elrick did not encounter anyone in that overnight housebreaking.

But when the owners of the Premier Store in Keith found him breaking into their shop on the night of December 20, he resorted to violence.

Mrs Young said: "About 11.15pm, the owners in their flat above the shop heard a thump and saw someone trying to steal two tills."

The prosecutor said that the owner, who had a piece of plastic piping, confronted Elrick and tried to stop him.

She added: "They began wrestling and the accused threatened to kill the owner and brandished a hammer at him.

"He hit him several times with it on the back and shoulder but the owner managed to disarm him.

"But the accused then produced a chisel, was disarmed again and he then produced a screwdriver and caused a small puncture wound with it."

Mrs Young said that the owner's wife then assisted her husband and they managed to disarm him for a third time and restrained him until the police arrived.

Elrick admitted theft by housebreaking, attempted theft by housebreaking, assault to injury and assault.

Defending, Robert Cruickshank told the court: "He has expressed to me regret and remorse for these offences. There was no premeditation to the assaults.

"He was trying to remove himself from the premises. Fortunately any injury was minor and superficial."

Sheriff Cruickshank rejected the relevance of the nature of the injuries caused after reading the victim impact statements.

Jailing Elrick for a total of three years, he told him: "Two weeks after breaking into one shop in Keith, you broke into a second premises and attempted to steal two tills.

"But you were thwarted by the intervention of the shop owners who were then assaulted."

The Sheriff backdated the sentence to December 22 when Elrick was remanded in custody.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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