A heartless thief was today (Wednesday) jailed for four years after he failed to help police fish a bag full of stolen medals from a river following a string of “contemptible” break ins.
Ronald McKay broke into Dundee and Angus College and stole a haul of irreplaceable medallions that had been put on display at the institution after being loaned by an 80-year-old woman awarded them for her efforts in twinning Dundee with the city of Orleans in France.
McKay, who has a string of previous convictions including theft, robbery, and using a firearm to resist arrest, realised if he was found with them he would instantly be linked to the crime - so put them in a weighted bag and threw them into the River Tay to dispose of them.
He also stole almost £2600 worth of college staff’s Christmas savings and over £600 being kept on behalf of a group of exchange students in a carefully planned crime.
He then went on to break into an elderly couple’s home and stole a £6000 haul of jewellery - including a watch given to the 79-year-old husband for his 21st birthday that has never been found.
McKay was finally caught when he walked into Carnoustie Leisure Centre and smashed open a locker in the changing room - stealing a mobile phone and a car key.
He then made off in the stolen Renault Scenic - but was spotted by police, sparking a high-speed chase that only ended when McKay careered into the side of a house, writing off the car and damaging a wall.
Fiscal depute John Adams told Dundee Sheriff Court: “During the incident at the college a minibus had been stolen, driven around Dundee for two hours then dropped off back at the college.
“An investigation found a large quantity of property, including medallions loaned to the college for an exhibition by Evelyn Hood, age 80, who had been awarded them for her efforts in the twinning of Dundee and Orleans, France.
“On October 2 neighbours of an elderly couple who had gone on holiday from their home in Perthshire noticed the accused leaving carrying a bag.
“When the couple returned home they found a basement window had been propped open and their bedroom had been ransacked.
“Rings, jewels, commemorative coins, £120 cash, watches, bracelets and necklaces had been stolen.
“None were recovered.
“The watches included one given to the 79-year-old male occupant for his 21st birthday and was of great sentimental value.
“In the final incident the accused went to the leisure centre and asked the receptionist to enter as a spectator.
“He went into the changing rooms and exited ten minutes later having broken into a locker and stolen a mobile phone and a car key.
“He used the car key to take the car, which he was seen driving shortly thereafter in Broughty Ferry.
“Police activated their lights and sirens but he drove off at speed, crossing a junction without stopping.
“He then lost control and crashed into the side of a house.
“The stolen mobile phone was later found smashed at the side of the road in Monifieth, while the car was written off by the owner’s insurers.”
McKay, 38, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to charges of housebreaking, theft and careless driving committed between September 17 and October 4.
Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith said: “The police went to see him about recovering the items but they were unsuccessful.
“He repeats his offer to go with the police to the waterfront and show them exactly where he put the items.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown jailed McKay for four years and banned him from driving for five.
He said: “Some of this property had a financial value - but some was of a very great personal significance to its owner.
“The medallions were given to their owner in recognition of the value of the work she had done for the community.
“You, by contrast have done nothing but damage to the community.”