Two robbers who used an imitation gun to steal from 12 people in a park at night were caught when one victim fought back and disarmed them.
Megan Preston, 24, and Steven McGregor, 25, hid in the Meadows in Edinburgh with the intention of stealing cash and valuables from passers-by, the High Court in Edinburgh heard on Thursday.
Between midnight and 1am on March 29 they targeted a dozen people who used the park as a shortcut and threatened them into handing over their personal belongings using a fake firearm.
Preston, from Musselburgh, East Lothian and McGregor, from Edinburgh, both pleaded guilty to assault and robbery and firearm possession charges.
Prosecution lawyer Hugh Irwin said the pair entered the Meadows just before midnight on March 28. They targeted Thomas Cartwright and Graeme Fraser who were walking through the park.
Mr Irwin said: "They were on a path walking towards the tennis courts at the Melville Drive end of the park when they became aware of two persons, the now accused, walking towards them on the same path.
"They became concerned when getting closer as they saw that the smaller of the two - Preston - had a scarf pulled up to her eyes and her hood pulled up.
"As they got to about two metres in front of them the taller person - McGregor - reached into the waistband of his trousers and pulled out a handgun. As McGregor pulled the gun out Preston shouted 'money' or 'give us money'."
The victims both turned and ran away, chased by the attackers for around 20 metres. One of the accused shouted 'we are going to shoot you in the back'.
Once at Melville Drive the victims stopped and could not see the robbers. They then reported the incident to the police.
Minutes after the first incident, Mr Irwin told the court the pair then targeted Joe Raffles, 20, Lewis McCrudden, 20, and Jordan Smith, 18, who were cutting across the park to Laurieston Place. They took money and a phone from the victims.
The pair then confronted a group of people who had been walking through the park. The group included Joseph MacMillan.
Mr Irwin told the court: "Preston stepped forward and patted down Joseph MacMillan's body and came across his mobile phone in his pocket which she then removed.
"Joseph MacMillan pulled back and Preston then grabbed the gun from McGregor and struck MacMillan to the head with the butt of the gun.
"Although stunned by this, Joseph MacMillan then grabbed Preston and they were on the ground rolling about with Mr MacMillan trying to get the gun from her grasp. Mr Irwin said Mr MacMillan was able to get the gun and placed it in his rucksack."
The group went and stood outside the Doctors pub and were followed by the robbers. They asked Mr MacMillan to hand back the gun in return for the stolen items.
An armed response unit caught Preston and McGregor in Buccleuch Street just after 1am.
On Thursday, judge Lord Bracadale deferred sentence for reports. They are expected to be sentenced in Glasgow in August.
Following the court case, DCI Gary Cunningham praised the public for helping catch Preston and McGregor.
He said: "This was a terrifying ordeal for many of the individuals affected, who were innocently going about their business only to be confronted by the pair, and in some cases assaulted as well as robbed. It was thanks to the brave actions of a member of the public that the pair were disarmed, and officers were able to make a swift arrest."
People who read this story also read
- Busy city centre streets closed after fire breaks out in travel agent
- Man who beat his girlfriend with a hair dryer was hallucinating
- Four charged in connection with theft of £70,000 of bikes stolen from sheds
- Former soldier brandished fake rifle outside Celtic training ground
- Torture victim held captive for two days and had his face 'blow-torched'