Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Man jailed for attack on Edinburgh mother pushing pram

John Simmons. Pic by Ciaran Donnelly
Image caption Simmons was jailed for seven years at the High Court in Edinburgh

A fairground worker who subjected a mother with a pram to a knife-point ordeal in an Edinburgh beauty spot has been jailed for seven years.

John Simmons, 58, was wearing latex gloves when he put his hand over the 36-year-old woman's mouth and threatened her with a large knife.

Earlier Simmons admitted assaulting the 36-year-old woman to her injury in the Hermitage of Braid on 9 February 2010.

At the High Court in Edinburgh Simmons was put on the sex offenders' register.

Simmons' victim fell to the ground and when she offered him cash and her mobile phone, he said: "I don't want your money."

He then made her follow him until her shouts brought a couple of passing cyclists to the rescue.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lady Smith made an order keeping Simmons under supervision for 10 years after the end of his prison term.

Advocate depute Gillian More, prosecuting, told how the victim left her Edinburgh home about 1330 BST to walk her dog, also taking her two-month-old son.

She was walking along the main footpath through the Hermitage of Braid when Simmons sneaked up and grabbed her from behind.

'Terrifying incident'

Simmons held his knife against the woman's back as he made her walk along the path.

When two cyclists approached, Simmons ordered her not to shout but the woman screamed: "Help me, help me. He's got a knife."

As the cyclists approached, Simmons walked away and headed for a wooded area nearby.

Police arrested him later that afternoon, still wandering in the area "apparently unconcerned", and saw he had blood on his hands.

A knife, similar to the one used in the attack, was found in a holdall at the address where Simmons had been visiting his brother and another knife with an 8in blade was found in bushes in the Hermitage.

Tests revealed DNA from both Simmons and his victim on the knife found in the bushes.

Lady Smith told Simmons in court: "Although you told her not to shout, she was brave enough to do so.

"To say that, must have been a terrifying incident for a young mother.

"It was a terrible, terrible thing you inflicted on her."

She said if things had happened differently in the Hermitage of Braid, the mother might have been left unable to look after her baby son.

Defence QC Mark Stewart said Simmons, who usually lives in a caravan in the Leeds area, had been suffering from depression since the death of his hard-drinking partner, the court heard.

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