Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Gambler Mark Rutter who smashed up Dalkeith bookies jailed

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Media captionCCTV footage of Mark Rutter attacking staff in the shop

A gambler who launched a "vicious attack" on bookie shop staff in Midlothian after losing £200 has been given a life sentence.

Mark Rutter, 40, was ordered to serve two years and eight months before he can ask to be released for the attack at William Hill in Dalkeith.

One man was stabbed in the neck by Rutter and another was punched.

Liverpudlian Rutter pleaded guilty to robbery, assault to life endangerment and assault on 23 August 2012.

Judge Lord Uist said: "It is clear to me you must have terrified the two employees."

Image caption Mark Rutter was ordered to serve two years and eight months before he can ask to be released

Defence Jim Keegan claimed super-fast gaming machines, featured in a BBC Panorama programme, can take in £10 a minute and had sparked violence throughout Britain.

The lawyer told the High Court in Edinburgh many of the incidents went unreported because the operators did not want to jeopardise their profits.

Mr Keegan said: "I don't say that excuses the level of violence which was used after the accused went across the counter and attacked the two men. But the machine was the catalyst."

High risk

Lord Uist noted that Rutter had a record dating back to 1985 which included prison terms for burglary, serious assault and attempted rape.

Background reports, including an assessment prepared for Rutter's defence team, said he was a high risk.

Lord Uist warned Rutter he should not assume he would be released after two years and eight months.

"You will be released only when the Parole Board of Scotland is satisfied you are no longer considered to be a danger to the public," he said.

Footage from security cameras showed Rutter toppling the roulette-type machine which he had been playing.

It smashed into a gantry of TV screens.

He then smashed a security screen and jumped into the staff area behind the counter.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, said Rutter was shouting: "Give me my £200 back."

Image caption The incident happened in William Hill in Dalkeith

Rutter tried to open the tills then punched cashier Ryan Drummond on the head.

He then twice struck deputy manager Daniel Hardwick on the neck with a pair of scissors.

Another customer told Rutter the police were on their way and he fled with about £180 in notes and another £20 in coins.

Police answering the 999 call to the shop in Dalkeith's High Street brought in a dog to help search nearby woods after reports of a man seen there, counting money.

Rutter was found sitting on a river bank and was detained. He claimed he had been fishing.

A thorough search of the area uncovered the bloodstained scissors - with Rutter's DNA on the handle.

Lord Uist heard Rutter was in Scotland visiting a girlfriend.

An Association of British Bookmakers spokesman said: "We welcome the conviction and fitting sentence for such a serious crime against betting shop colleagues.

"It is highly misleading to suggest this serious criminal act committed by a person with a history of violence can be excused because of gambling losses.

"Bookmakers, who are highly regulated, devote significant resources to protecting staff and customers and the suggestion by a defence lawyer that bookmakers under-report crime in the pursuit of profit is grossly irresponsible and plain wrong."

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