Pair jailed over Edinburgh Royal Mile pharmacy siege

Russell Irvine being led away by police Russell Irvine was led away by police after the incident

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A couple who held customers and employees at an Edinburgh pharmacy against their will have been jailed.

Russell Irvine, 32, and Helen Paterson, 33, were sentenced to six and five years in prison respectively at the High Court in Aberdeen.

The pair, both from Edinburgh, will also spend a further five years on licence following their release.

They walked into the Royal Mile Pharmacy on 15 May and produced a knife before attempting to rob the shop.

Russell Irvine and Helen Paterson Russell Irvine, 32, and Helen Paterson, 33, were sentenced to six and five years in prison respectively

They refused to let customers or staff leave the shop for more than three hours.

Police eventually forced entry into the pharmacy, using a stun gun to subdue Irvine.

Paterson was taken to hospital after falling ill during the incident.

She and Irvine both pled guilty to the offences in August.

Judge Lord Doherty said: "This was a terrifying and prolonged ordeal for those whom you abducted and assaulted.

"A major police operation had to be implemented to deal with the emergency which you created.

"There is no escaping that you have each committed a very grave crime.

"Those who work in pharmacies must be able to carry on their work without being subjected to violence or threats of violence.

"Their safety and the safety of ordinary members of the public using pharmacies has to be protected."

Irvine and Paterson entered the shop at about 18:00 and prevented staff and customers from leaving.

Workers were said to have been traumatised by the robbery attempt.

Ch Insp Bob Paris said: "Russell Irvine and Helen Paterson subjected the staff and patrons within the pharmacy to a terrifying ordeal, which lasted a number of hours before police could bring a safe conclusion to the incident.

"Whatever the motives for their actions were, the distress and fear they caused their victims was inexcusable and the sentences handed to them today are a reflection of how seriously police and Crown Office view incidents like this.

"I sincerely hope all of those who were detained by Irvine and Paterson within the pharmacy can now put the matter firmly behind them."

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