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Brave north-east pensioner fought off masked raider with zimmer frame

Paul Pirie
Paul Pirie

A fearless north-east pensioner battered a masked intruder with his zimmer frame after discovering the man in his bedroom at 5am.

The 74-year-old had been watching Police Interceptors on TV after being unable to sleep, but when he went back to bed at 5am he opened the door to be met by the masked, hooded Paul Pirie.

The pensioner tried to “physically eject” Pirie and the pair struggled together, with the man managing to rip off his mask and hit him with the walking frame.

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Paul Pirie

Pirie managed to get away with a suitcase and safe containing medicine, but returned minutes later to the address in Peterhead, to apologise and give back tobacco and keys which he had also nicked.

Yesterday Pirie, 33, was jailed for more than two years over the offence, despite claiming he was forced to do it by “Scousers”.

Fiscal depute Colin Neilson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court: “At 3am on Friday July 24 the complainer was watching television in the living room. He watched television until 5am at which point he decided to go to bed.

“On reaching the bedroom door he saw a male in his bedroom. The male was wearing a black face mask and blue jacket. It was the accused.

“The complainer tried to physically eject the accused and a struggle ensued during which the accused’s face mask came off. He was able to see the accused’s face.

“The accused then exited by the back door. The accused stole a blue suitcase. The accused had gained entry to the property through an open bedroom window.

“About a minute later the accused returned. He apologised and handed back a tobacco pouch belonging to the complainer and the door keys which he had used to open the back door when exiting.”

The pensioner told Pirie he was contacting the police and he left again.

Police then arrived and seized the face mask.

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Aberdeen Sheriff Court

Mr Neilson said: “At 5.50am police officers were searching the nearby area when they traced the accused on Balmoor Terrace, Peterhead.

“He was carrying a blue suitcase stolen from the locus. This was seized and searched.

“It contained a safe with a screwdriver jammed into it and a hammer.

“The accused admitted the offence. He said he was made to do it by ‘Scousers’.

“He was arrested and taken to Fraserburgh Police Office. In response to caution and charge the accused said ‘I was forced to do it’.”

Mr Neilson said the safe was found to contain medication which was returned to the pensioner.

Pirie, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, pled guilty to a charge of theft by housebreaking.

Defence agent Iain Jane said prior to the offence his client had been to purchase valium and encountered “individuals from the Liverpool area”.

He said: “They knew who Mr Pirie was and indicated he had a debt which required to be repaid. He tried to protest but it transpired they were certain about that.

“Mr Pirie was shown some photos on a mobile phone including a photo of his mum and his mum’s car.”

Mr Jane said Pirie was also told they had information about where his partner stayed, and was told there would be “consequences for others if he did not engage in behaviour they wanted him to”.

He said Pirie had been taken to the address and told to go in and steal the safe, adding: “Mr Pirie then acted in the manner libelled.

“Mr Pirie has left the property expecting someone to still be outside. There was no-one there at that point.

“He returned to the property and it’s his position he asked the complainer to phone the police.

“He apologised for what happened and indicated Scousers made him do it.

“He returned the other items which were not part of the plan and left the property and started to walk towards the designated meeting point.

“On the way he wanted to see what was within the safe and made a crude attempt to open it without success.”

Sheriff William Summers said the incident “must have been a terrifying ordeal” for the pensioner, and jailed Pirie for 26 months.

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