Man 'smashed skull' of M&S worker during store robbery

The Marks & Spencer night shift worker was left unconscious.

Man ‘smashed skull’ of M&S worker during Dundee store robbery STV News

A violent intruder who attacked a worker at a Marks and Spencer store and “smashed his skull” in a life-threatening assault has been jailed for six years.

Robert Gray, 41, left his victim bleeding heavily and unconscious in the attack at his workplace in Dundee before carrying on with his original mission to steal steaks and alcohol from the premises.

A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh told Gray that he had displayed “an astonishing level of callousness” towards the victim.

The court heard the thief feared he had killed the M&S worker in the attack after repeatedly hitting him on the head with a bottle. 

Lord Scott told Gray he would have faced a nine year jail term if he was convicted of the offence following a trial, but it would be reduced following his guilty plea.

Gray earlier admitted assaulting the 47-year-old member of staff to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and the danger of his life at the Marks and Spencer store at Gallagher Retail Park, East Dock Street, Dundee, on October 12 last year. He also admitted breaking in and stealing food and alcohol.

The judge ordered that he should be under supervision for a further three years when he will be on licence and can be returned to prison if he breaches its conditions. 

The M&S worker was in a loading bay at 4am when he heard the sound of glass breaking at the rear of the store. He went to investigate and saw Gray coming through a broken window.

He called the police and told him he was doing so. Gray then said: “I’m coming through. I’m coming through.”

Advocate depute Richard Goddard KC said: “Upon entering the shop the accused picked up a glass bottle and threw it at the complainer, which struck him on the head.”

Gray armed himself with another bottle and began to struggle with the night shift worker as he repeatedly hit the victim on the head with the weapon.

Mr Goddard said: “This caused the complainer to fall to the floor, unconscious and injured. The accused then left the complainer in that state and began to steal bottles of alcohol and steaks before then fleeing via a fire exit.”

The M&S worker came round and managed to get up but police found him unsteady on his feet and bleeding heavily from his face and head.

Gray returned to his girlfriend’s flat with three bottles of alcohol and seven packs of steak and told her had repeatedly hit a worker with a glass bottle and “smashed his skull”.

The worker was taken to Dundee’s Ninewells hospital and found to have multiple skull fractures and a broken nose, eye sockets and cheek bone.

He suffered a bleed from an artery which caused pressure on his brain and underwent a craniotomy, where part of the skull is temporarily removed to relieve pressure. He also underwent a further operation to repair his skull.

After six and a half weeks in hospital he continued to experience ongoing effects from the attack on him, the court heard.    

Lord Scott said that just one of the impacts on the victim was that he had been advised not to continue swimming in case he takes a seizure.

Police viewed CCTV footage and were able to identify the perpetrator of the attack and Gray was arrested on October 12.

Defence solicitor advocate Kris Gilmartin told the court that Gray’s position was that he went to the premises with the intention of breaking a window and reaching in to steal bottles of drink, but had fallen in. 

He said that after the bottle attack Gray was “very concerned” because the victim was not moving.

Mr Gilmartin said: “It was at that stage he thought he had killed him and he didn’t leave the shop until he was moving and making a noise.

“The accused was aware police officers had been called and he did not leave the area until the emergency services were in the shop. He was able to see that from a distance,” he said.

He said Gray has suffered nightmares following the offence and has shown remorse.

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