A DRUNKEN thug who assaulted a shopkeeper after demanding more booze has been described as a “bungling idiot”.
Colin Bathgate went into the Nisa Store at Nigel Rise, Livingston, armed with a hammer and wooden bat on May 8 last year.
In order to disguise himself the 22-year-old wore a balaclava that hid his face.
Bathgate brandished his weapons at the shopkeeper before struggling with him as he attempted to force him to hand over alcohol.
However, as the robber was leaving the store – empty handed – he removed his balaclava to speak to the shopkeeper, who immediately recognised him and alerted the police.
Last week at Livingston Sheriff Court, Bathgate, whose address was given as Philip Avenue, Boghall, pleaded guilty to assaulting the shopkeeper and attempting to rob him.
Bathgate also admitted assaulting his girlfriend at her home in Dedridge by struggling violently with her and then seizing her by the neck shortly before the bungled attempted robbery at the store.
His solicitor, Andy Aitken, told the court his client had attempted the botched robbery in desperation for more alcohol.
Mr Aitken said: “It is accepted from the outset that it is a very serious issue but I think this offence need to be seen for what it is. There is no doubt it caused great upset to his partner and the owner of the shop. It was a crime carried out by someone who had consumed too much alcohol and acted like a bungling idiot.
“He took the balaclava off to speak to the shopkeeper who knows him and therefore identified him.
“It started off with him consuming too much alcohol, something he was doing that summer.
“He had argued with his partner about money. He was of the view that she had money she owed him.
“The argument resulted in a struggle which ended in the entirely unacceptable behaviour in charge one and was lucky no injury resulted because of this.”
The solicitor said Bathgate remembered little of his attempted store robbery.
Mr Aitken added: “Clearly he was intent on securing more alcohol to consume. That seems to be the premise of his behaviour in the shop by demanding alcohol.
“He understands it could well attract a custodial sentence. This is a serious offence and has been recognised by him in an early stage.
“He has issues from childhood and from his consumption of alcohol.”
Placing Bathgate on probation for two years Sheriff Alan Millar said he had come close to jailing the 22-year-old.
Sheriff Millar said: “It is fairly fortunate for you that these assaults did not cause significant injury. If you had caused injury I would have had no hesitation in sending you to prison for a significant period of time.
“There are some issues that can be addressed on probation and it seems to me that if they can be addressed then hopefully we will not see you here again.
“I must take into account that it is your first offence. The onus is very much on you to do what things are asked of you on probation as I think if this was looked at again then there would be no alternative other than custody.”