Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Masked thieves caught after dropping phone in Midlothian

Two masked men who broke into a 76-year-old woman's Midlothian home looking for drugs were tracked down after one of them dropped his mobile phone.

Steven Wylie, 25, from Bonnyrigg, and Jay Potter, 22, from Glasgow, pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to breaking into Ruth McVey's home at Straiton on 7 August 2015.

Sheriff Michael O'Grady deferred sentence for background reports.

The men were remanded in custody.

Fiscal depute Aidan Higgins told Sheriff O'Grady that Mrs McVey had lived in a mobile home in a static caravan park for 12 years.

Dog barking

The two men, he said, had been involved in a dispute with others in the Midlothian area over controlled drugs. They had received information that drugs at the centre of the dispute had been hidden in Mrs McVey's home.

Mr Higgins said a young male relation of Mrs McVey had, without her knowledge, hidden the drugs in a bread bin in the kitchen.

Wylie and Potter did not know Mrs McVey lived there.

At about 02:00, Mrs McVey was wakened by thumping noises outside and her dog barking.

She was checking her house when she looked out a window and saw a hooded figure walking past her gate.

Mr Higgins said: "She considered calling the police, but decided not to when she saw the figure walking away and she made herself a cup of tea to calm her nerves."

About 20 minutes later, Mrs McVey heard further noises outside and saw two figures near her home.

Mr Higgins said: "A few seconds later, one of the accused used a glass bottle to break one of the living room windows, after which a plant pot was thrown through one of the glass doors leading into the living room.

"As the window and door smashed, Mrs McVey ran into the kitchen.

"The two accused entered her home, wearing hooded tops with the hoods pulled tight across their faces, and were shouting."

Sleeping tablets

The men began searching the house and Mrs McVey, seeing a chance to escape, picked up her dog and ran out in her nightclothes, shouting on her neighbours for help.

Mrs McVey and a neighbour returned to the house a few minutes later and found that the raiders had left and her home was in a state of disorder. The bread bin and her mobile phone had been taken.

Mr Higgins said the police found a mobile phone that had been dropped outside the house and that led them to Potter. Further investigation led to the arrest of the two men.

He said Mrs McVey told the police: "I've always felt safe around here and I don't think I'll ever feel safe again.

"I'm not sure if I can sleep in my house again."

Mrs McVey had lived with her daughter for a time, but suffered from panic attacks and was prescribed sleeping tablets.

The court heard she has now returned to her home, but only after iron bars were fitted over her windows.

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