Serial crook dodges jail after jury believe tale of £18K loot find

© DC ThomsonDundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

A serial crook has dodged another conviction over a break in – after convincing a jury that he had found £18,000 worth of hair and beauty products that had been stolen from a top salon lying in the street.

Robert Gray – who has 111 previous convictions, including three theft by housebreaking – was seen on CCTV shifting bags full of stolen goods from outside the Michael Johnston Hairdressing salon in Dundee into a nearby close.

The heroin addict insisted he had not broken into the shop – but had simply found bags and cases full of valuable hairdressing equipment and beauty supplies and mistaken them for cases full of vinyl records.

He then took them to his room at a local hostel before being caught by security guards at a shopping centre where he is banned carrying a rucksack full of the items.

Cops then found an “Aladdin’s cave” of hair straighteners, hairdryers, fake tan, fake eyelashes, nail varnish, massage oils and hairspray in his room at the nearby Salvation Army hostel.

Michael Johnston Hairdressing salon in Dundee.

But Gray, giving evidence in his own defence, claimed he had simply found the items while looking for a lost mobile phone in the area before 7am on March 4 this year.

He then claimed he would not have sold the items he had found – but would have either kept them for himself or given some of the goods away.

Gray said he thought the bags full of hair products had been thrown away, adding: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In her address to the jury, fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said that to believe his story they must think Gray was the “luckiest man in Dundee”.

And the jury agreed – rejecting the housebreaking charge and instead finding Gray guilty of a lesser charge of theft by finding, which Gray had admitted from the witness box.

Gray, 36, a prisoner at HMP Perth, denied a charge of theft by housebreaking alleged to have been committed on March 4 in Whitehall Crescent, Dundee.

A jury found him guilty of a lesser charge of theft by finding.

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Gray for one month.