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Convicted killer who robbed Oban Marks and Spencer at gunpoint concocted bizarre tale about collecting debt

The scene of the incident last year. Photo by Stephen Lawson
The scene of the incident last year. Photo by Stephen Lawson

A convicted killer who robbed a Marks and Spencer store at gunpoint and made his getaway on a bus has been jailed for 12 years.

Simon Douglas, who murdered a fellow prisoner in England in 1993, was out on licence when he carried out the assault and robbery at the shop in Lochavullin Drive, Oban, on August 13 last year.

He later concocted a bizarre story claiming that he was acting on behalf of a mob figure he would name only as “Chris”.

The 52-year-old approached teenage shop assistant Cameron Lawrie, who was working on a till, pulled up his shirt, showed the butt of a gun and threatened to shoot him.

Jurors heard that the weapon was a BB gun.

At the High Court in Glasgow Douglas, who is from England and has 57 previous convictions, denied the offence but was convicted by a jury after a five-day trial.

Judge Lord Braid told Douglas: “You have an appalling record and were on licence at the time.”

Douglas was released from prison in October 2018 by the parole board and ordered to stay in a hostel in England.

However, he left there and toured around Scotland camping out.

On the day of the robbery he took a bus from Fort William to Oban, bought the BB gun, carried out the robbery and then got a bus back to Fort William.

In evidence, Douglas claimed that he did not have a gun on him when he went into Marks and Spencer. He said that he had been asked by a gangland figure called Chris from Oban to collect an £800 debt from Mr Lawrie.

He claimed he did not expect the shop worker to take the cash from the till, and was “focussing on taking the money and leaving”.

Defence counsel Geoff Forbes asked what the surname of the supposed underworld figure was.

Douglas said: “I have to refuse to name him as I would be putting my life at risk.”

Prosecutor Stewart Ronnie asked Douglas why he had dumped the jacket he was wearing and bought another after the robbery.

Douglas said: “To change my appearance. The world of my friend Chris is a dangerous, murky world.”

The jury did not accept Douglas’ bizarre story and convicted him of threatening Mr Lawrie with violence, presenting a BB gun at him and robbing him of £500.

Douglas showed no emotion as he was led away to begin his sentence.

Police at the time said that Douglas left the scene with hundreds of pounds.

They said he was dressed in a military-style khaki jacket, outdoor boots and a black beanie hat when he carried out the daylight raid.

Speaking at the time, Oban Community Council chairwoman Marri Malloy said: “It is dreadful it has happened in Oban.

“I can’t understand it as everyone knows everyone else. It is terrible. It is a disgrace.”

Police said the shop assistant was left extremely traumatised.

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