Young iPod user attacked by heroin addict


By Michael MacLeod

A HEROIN addict who attacked a boy on a bus for his mobile phone has been jailed for a year.
Darren Rankin,24, picked the 15 year-old for no reason other than to fund his drug habit.

The victim was listening to music on his iPod as the bus travelled along Edinburgh’s Craigentinny Avenue.

He saw Rankin and another man asking other passengers whether he could borrow their mobile phones, and refused to hand his over when he was asked.

Suddenly Rankin grabbed the terrified youngster and put him in a headlock, demanding his phone.

Another passenger stepped in to help while the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made a frantic dash to safety.

He ran off the bus and into an RS McColl’s newsagent, but was chased by the two men.

It was only when staff at the shop hit a panic alarm button that Rankin made an attempt to escape.

Police caught him shortly after the April 14 attack and today (Tues) at Edinburgh Sheriff Court he admitted assault and robbery on a minor.

Fiscal Depute John Kirk said: “It was an extremely unpleasant and distressing episode for the complainer.

“He had got on the bus at 8pm to go home and sat to the back listening to his iPod.

“Two males approached him and asked to borrow his mobile phone.

“When he refused he was grabbed and put in a headlock while both men tried to seize the mobile phone from his hand.”

After escaping the grasps of Rankin, the boy fled the bus and burst into the nearest shop to get help.

Mr Kirk added: “He ran into a staff area and the staff were concerned and activated the panic alarm which activated police assistance.

“Upon hearing that the two men fled but Rankin was detained a short time later.”

Rankin, from Edinburgh’s, claimed he and his accomplice had lost money in a drug deal.

His defence agent Stephen Mannifield said: “On the day in question they met with another male and pooled their money with a view to buy some heroin.

“They gave that to another man who said he would get them the drugs.

“That third party ran off and left them in the depths of heroin withdrawal and thereafter they got on the bus and committed the offence.

“Assault and robbery is a serious offence and doubtless the incident was upsetting for the boy.

“Mr Rankin has asked me to apologise to the court for his actions.”

Sheriff James Scott told him: “The gravity of this crime hardly needs to be underlined.

“You persisted in assaulting the boy from the bus to the shop.

“I am satisfied that no sentence is appropriate other than imprisonment.”