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Sutherland man jailed for 20 months after Wick filling station robbery

By Court Reporter

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A YOUNG Sutherland man who robbed a Wick filling station shop armed with a knife has been jailed for 20 months.

John Cowie (23) was pursued by police after he got away with £245 but was eventually stopped by a stinger device strung across the road some 50 miles farther south.

The runaway admitted two charges – assault and robbery and dangerous driving – on indictment.

Cowie staged the hold-up at the Francis Street shop on May 2, Wick Sheriff Court heard on Monday.

Wearing an orange boiler suit, he entered the shop and asked for a packet of cigarettes.

Shop assistant Sharon Young, who was alone in the premises, turned round to get it from a shelf and when she turned back again she saw that Cowie was holding a knife close to his chest.

She described the blade to police officers as “longer than a penknife but not looking like a kitchen knife”.

The accused demanded money from the till but specified “notes only” and Ms Young said she would give him the money "as long as you don't hurt me”.

Fiscal David Barclay said that Cowie left the shop and headed south in a BMW which belonged to his mother, who, it was stressed, had no knowledge of how the vehicle had been used.

Police were alerted and parked at the southern end of Brora to intercept Cowie. He appeared at an excessive speed soon afterwards and officers set off in pursuit at speeds of up to 110 mph.

Mr Barclay continued: “The accused’s car was seen to straddle the centre line markings at one stage, then cross entirely onto the opposing carriageway, and at another point carrying out a dangerous overtaking procedure."

At Golspie, fortunately deserted due to the lockdown, Cowie entered the village at 50 mph – the limit there is 30 mph.

Sheriff Andrew Berry said Cowie's conduct had been outrageous.
Sheriff Andrew Berry said Cowie's conduct had been outrageous.

During the chase, the police car’s sirens and lights were in operation but Cowie paid no heed. He was still within the village when the stinger burst the tyres of his car, forcing him to a halt.

Cowie, of Calder Crescent, Embo, was arrested by officers who recovered the cash, cigarettes and the knife.

Solicitor Fiona MacDonald appealed to Sheriff Andrew Berry not to impose a custodial sentence and stated that, while Cowie couldn't afford to pay a fine, he was willing to undertake unpaid work in the community.

Sheriff Andrew Berry, who saw CCTV and dashcam footage of the offences, said the recordings clearly showed the "outrageous" nature of Cowie's conduct.

The sheriff, who also considered a background report, said that the robbery had had an adverse effect on Ms Young, having been suddenly confronted by the accused presenting a knife, and added that there was no alternative to prison for "such serious offences".

Cowie was sentenced to 20 months for the assault and robbery and a further four months for dangerous driving which will run concurrently with the 20-month term.

The prison sentence was backdated to September 7 when the accused was remanded.

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