By Lauren Crooks, Deadline Press & Picture Agency
A DOZY supermarket worker who got his mate to beat him up as part of a staged robbery was jailed yesterday (WED) after being caught out by CCTV images.
John Tait, 20, lay in a pool of his own blood on the floor of the Scotmid store waiting patiently to be found by concerned morning staff.
Police arrived to find that £3,344 had been taken from the safes by an unknown robber.
They had originally assumed that Tait had been opening up the store for the day when he was ambushed.
But officers became suspicious when they realised he hadn’t been due to work that day and decided to review the CCTV images of the store.
The pictures revealed that Tait had opened the shop and entered the building along with another man and they were the only two to enter the premises that morning.
When quizzed by police, Tait admitted staging the robbery along with friend Christopher McGirr. He told them they had hatched the plan in a casino where they got themselves into debt through their addiction to gambling.
Tait also owned up to stealing £3,000 from the safe just four days before, which he had gambled and lost.
Yesterday (WED), at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Sheriff Michael O’Grady said the crime was a ‘spectacular start’ to the young man’s record, and jailed Tait for 16 months. His partner in crime McGirr was handed an eight month sentence.
The court heard how the pair set up the elaborate theft in July this year in the casino where they became friends.
CCTV images show the pair entering the Calder Road shop together after Tait unlocked the shutters.
Once inside, Tait allowed McGirr access to the staff area of the shop and the unlikely thieves took out the money from the safe. McGirr then assaulted his friend, hitting him on the head and body to convince police that a violent robber had attacked him.
Before leaving, he smashed Tait’s mobile phone – a trick to fool police into thinking that the robber had not wanted the supervisor to contact them. Tait lay bleeding on the floor and remained there so he would be discovered by the cleaners later that morning.
The shop worker later reported the assault and robbery along with other staff to police. At this stage, nobody suspected that the trainee supervisor was part of the elaborate crime.
But after looking at the shift rota, police discovered that Tait was not scheduled to be at the store that day and became suspicious.
When they viewed the CCTV images of the shop entry, it became clear that Tait had unlocked the shop shutters and let himself and McGirr into the premises. Enquiries led them to a casino, said to be frequented by both Tait and McGirr, and an investigation took place into the extent of their gambling habits.
When questioned, Tait admitted his involvement in the staged break-in and confessed he had previously stolen £3,000 from the safe. None of the money was ever recovered.
Jim Stephenson, acting for Tait, said his client had gotten into gambling debt after frequenting casinos. He said: “He chose to frequent casinos and now suffers a large amount of debt, for which he seeking help to deal with.”
Defence agent for McGirr insisted his client had tackled his gambling problem and added: “These are two people who found themselves in an addictive situation.”
Sheriff O’Grady said that he had taken into account that the scam was a first offence for both accused, but could not consider any alternative than custody. He said: “I always take into account what has been said on your behalf and that this was a first offfence. But this was a spectacular start.
“This was wholly premeditated for financial gain, it involved planning and deceit. And for you Mr Tait it involved a gross breach of trust.”
Tait was sentence to 16 months imprisonment, while McGirr was jailed for eight months.