Tayside and Central Scotland

St Andrews University student loses dissertation in van raid

Find My iPhone Image copyright Apple
Image caption The thief was traced using an app on the stolen smartphone

A student lost the only copy of his dissertation when a thief stole a computer hard drive from his van, a court has heard.

Richard Tolmie took the drive from the St Andrews University student's campervan, which was parked in Dundee.

The 29-year-old was tracked to homeless accommodation in the city using an iPhone he also stole from the vehicle.

He admitted two charges of theft on 1 or 2 August. Sentence was deferred and he was released on bail.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard that Tolmie, a prisoner at HMP Perth, had also stolen a £1,400 road bike from a Portacabin on Broughty Ferry Road before breaking into the campervan on nearby St Roque's Lane.

The two students who had parked it there - Ronnie Kim and Jakob Feigl - returned at 03:00 to find a "substantial" amount of property was missing.

The pair drove to St Andrews police station and Mr Feigl activated the "Find My iPhone" app. He found his phone had last been switched on at homeless accommodation in Dundee where Tolmie was staying.

Stolen laptop

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said police then watched CCTV footage which showed Tolmie - who has multiple previous convictions for theft and supplying drugs - arriving at the hostel with the bike.

She said: "His bedroom was searched and all of the least valuable items stolen during the two thefts were recovered."

The stolen bicycle along with two phones, a laptop and the hard drive had not been recovered, Ms Robertson told the court.

"The monetary value of the hard drive is approximately £70, but its true value is obviously much higher given it contained the only copy of Mr Feigl's dissertation.

"Of note is that when the accused checked into the Dundee Survival Group earlier that day he had had a laptop and four mobile telephones in his possession."

Anne Duffy, defending, said: "He was thrown out by his girlfriend and ended up in hostel accommodation.

"That led to illicit substance use and he has little recollection of the offences he has pleaded guilty to."

Sheriff Alistair Carmichael deferred sentence for a drug treatment and testing order report and released Tolmie on bail.

He said: "This is the last chance saloon. If you don't co-operate you'll be back here at square one with a high chance of a custodial sentence."