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Dangerous mugger marched victim around Aberdeen city centre at knifepoint

James McNolty pounced on his victim as he left Pure Gym and made his way along Shiprow, 

Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Image: DC Thomson

A sinister mugger grabbed a 20-year-man and marched him around Aberdeen city centre at knife point withdrawing cash.

James McNolty pounced on his victim as he left Pure Gym and made his way along Shiprow.

The 28-year-old forced his terrified victim to withdraw money from a Union Street ATM on three occasions, and asked if he’d “ever been kidnapped”.

He even tried to talk the man into taking him home and pretending to his flatmates that they were friends.

But eventually McNolty’s managed to sprint to freedom after the knifeman let go for a split second.

Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court the incident happened at 12.20am on September 11 last year.

Placed knife against man’s stomach

McNolty’s victim had just left Pure Gym on Shiprow and was walking home when he noticed him nearby.

McNolty initially approached and asked the man where the nearest taxi rank was, walking with him onto Union Street.

Ms Simpson said: “As they approached Back Wynd, the accused grabbed the strap of the complainer’s gym bag, which he was wearing across his body, and guided the complainer across to Back Wynd.

“The accused then pulled a knife from under his jumper. The knife had a blade which was around 5-7 inches in length and with a serrated edge.

“The accused placed the knife across the complainer’s stomach area and made threats to cut him.”

McNolty held the blade inside his victim’s pocket against his stomach and ordered him to place his arm around him “as if they were drunken friends”.

In shock and physically shaking, the terrified man did as he was told.

He saw other members of the public nearby but was “too frightened to ask for help” as McNolty was still holding the knife against his stomach.

McNolty told his victim he needed money and demanded he withdraw cash from an ATM, warning: “I’m going to rob you for all you have.”

Mugger threatened to stab 20-year-old

The callous mugger wanted to attend a specific cash machine, but the complainer refused and stated he would use the Nationwide one as he wanted to stay on Union Street where it was busier.

With McNolty standing over him, the man withdrew £100.

Ms Simpson said: “The accused then marched the complainer to a nearby bus stop.

“The accused sat next to the complainer and placed one of his legs over the complainer’s legs, pinning him in place.

“The accused then took the £100 from the complainer.”

McNolty asked for the man’s phone as he “wanted to view his Facebook account” and proceeded to demand more money, threatening to stab him if he did not give him what he wanted.

‘Have you ever been kidnapped before?’

Ms Simpson told the court: “The complainer and the accused attended the ATM two more times, with the complainer withdrawing £100 and then a further £250.

“The accused and the complainer returned to the bus stop where they remained for a couple of minutes before the accused forced the complainer to walk with him down the stairs to the Green.

“The accused spoke about making them get a taxi and asked the complainer if he had ever been kidnapped before.”

Still holding onto his victim and still in possession of the knife, McNolty made his way towards Denburn Road where he pulled the blade out and held it up to the man’s neck and eye.

Ms Simpson said: “He made various strange comments, including that he wasn’t really stealing from the complainer and that he was stealing from the government.

“The accused asked the complainer for his address. He provided a false address.

“The accused demanded the complainer’s house keys, which he provided.

‘Pale in colour, shaking, and visibly distressed’

“The accused asked what would happen if the complainer took the accused back to his flat and told his flatmates that he was a friend from the gym.

“The complainer told the accused that he would not do this.

“The accused then mentioned going to a hotel on Union Terrace to have a few drinks and ‘discuss things further’.”

While climbing the stairs from the Denburn area, the complainer had a split-second chance to escape and rushed up the stairs ahead of his attacker.

McNolty shouted after him and gave chase but gave up as the man sprinted away as fast as he could back towards Union Street and into a bar he knew a friend was working at.

He was “pale in colour, shaking, and visibly distressed”.

Attacker was ‘very unwell’

The police were contacted and McNolty was traced and arrested at a bar on Belmont Street.

He was searched and found in possession of £400 of the £450 he’d taken from his victim.

He also had the knife and the man’s house keys.

McNolty, of Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen, pled guilty to a charge of abduction, assault and robbery and a charge of possession of a knife.

Defence agent Paul Barnett said it seemed “clear” that his client was “very unwell” at the time.

He added that McNolty had already been made subject to an interim compulsion order to be detained at Cornhill for treatment.

The solicitor said his client had shown “remorse”.

Sheriff Gareth Jones made a fresh compulsion order for McNolty to be detained at the hospital for treatment for an initial period of at least six months before it would be assessed as to whether the period should be extended.

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