Jail for meat cleaver wielding Bearsden robber

An armed robber's ginger stubble helped snare him after he raided a petrol station in Bearsden.

Meat cleaver-wielding Ross Torrance wore a balaclava but his distinctive facial hair was noticed by forecourt worker Margaret Stowell at Bearsden Services, Duntocher Road.

It was also spotted by an off-duty police officer who heard the panic alarm sounding at the garage and watched as a man ran off.

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The officer watched as he removed the balaclava in Castlehill Road and noticed he had red hair and a pale complexion. He identified the robber as Torrance, who lived nearby.

A search of 29-year-old Torrance’s home in Dryburgh Road, Bearsden, revealed two meat cleavers and a balaclava. The stolen money was not recovered.

Torrance was jailed today (Thursday, March 23) at the High Court in Glasgow for four years and eight months by judge Lord Boyd, who told him: “Those who work in the retail sector must have the protection of the courts.”

He admitted robbing the Bearsden Services of a quantity of money and threatening 47-year-old Margaret Stowell with two meat cleavers.

Prosecutor Bill McVicar told the court that Ms Stowell was about close at 10pm when she was confronted by Torrance.

Mr McVicar said: “He said: “‘Do what yer telt and you won’t get hurt,’ and placed a bag on the counter and said: ‘Put yer money in it.’

“She walked past him, made her way to the tills and began to feel for the panic button and tried to stall the accused by informing him that it took a few minutes to get into the till.

“She then asked him if he was sure he wanted to do this as there was not a lot of money in the till as it had been a quiet day.

“The only facial feature she could see from under the balaclava was ginger stubble.”

The court heard that after giving Torrance £170 from the till she told him that was all he was getting and activated the panic alarm.

When Torrance walked out the shop, she phoned the police.

Another customer entered and found Ms Stowell in a distressed state and stayed with her until the police arrived.

Torrance has previous convictions for assault and disorderly conduct and was jailed for 30 months in 2012 for an assault involving the use of a machete.

Defence counsel Ronnie Renucci said: “The story of Mr Torrance’s life is one of drink and drugs.

“When he committed this offence he was under the influence of valium and alcohol.

“He realises he was stupid. He lives close to the petrol station. He feels distressed and embarrassed by his behaviour. He is genuinely remorseful for what the complainer went through.”