NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Sleep apnoea mask ripped from man's face during Elgin break-in

High Court in Glasgow
Image caption The court heard that Christie and Smith had a number of previous convictions

A man had his sleep apnoea mask ripped from his face during a break-in at his friend's Elgin home, a court has heard.

William Christie, 29, and Christopher Smith, 26, demanded that Michael McMann tell him where a safe was.

The pair, who have been jailed, also stole three children's piggy banks while ransacking the house at about 02:00 on 22 November 2015.

Judge Lord Boyd jailed Christie, from Elgin, for four years and Smith, from Keith, for four and a half years.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the pair also swung a claw hammer towards Mr McMann, 46, who punched one of the men in the face before fleeing the house to ring police.

A 13-year-old child was asleep in the house at the time.

'Frightening experience'

Mr McMann was staying at his friend Craig McDonald's house that night while Mr McDonald was out working as a taxi driver.

Christie and Smith - who have a number of previous convictions for similar offences - admitted forcing their way into the house, assaulting Mr McMann and stealing three piggy banks.

Lord Boyd told them: "This was a positive assault on Mr McMann, fortunately there was no physical injury.

"But this was a frightening experience for him and has also affected the 13-year-old boy who was asleep at the time."

Advocate depute Paul Brown, prosecuting, said Mr McMann had been woken up by someone pulling his sleep apnoea mask away from his face and shouting, "Where's the safe?".

He said: "As he uttered the words, the male affected a Polish accent.

"Mr McMann then saw a second male enter the room. He was also shouting, "where's the safe?" and was also affecting a Polish accent.

"The complainer sat up in bed. He saw that the second male was holding a claw hammer in his right hand, which he was swinging in an aggressive manner."

'Extremely hostile'

After hearing what had happened, Mr McDonald returned home and noticed that three piggy banks - one containing silver coins and the other two containing coppers - were missing.

The court heard that Mr McDonald did have a safe in his house containing takings from his taxi business.

When he checked the safe he saw it was undisturbed and undiscovered and told police he could not think of anybody suspicious who knew about it.

Christie and Smith had been seen driving around in a silver Subaru wearing balaclavas.

Both accused were found hiding in undergrowth near the silver car and were "extremely hostile".

When interviewed, they both refused to answer questions.

It was said on their behalf that they thought the house was empty when they entered it.

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