‘Purge’ mask-wearing getaway driver jailed after failed Jaguar theft in Camelon

Stephen Rennie was jailed after a three-day trial at Falkirk Sheriff Court
Stephen Rennie was jailed after a three-day trial at Falkirk Sheriff Court

A getaway driver was jailed for four years today after an attempt to car-jack a brand new Jaguar went spectacularly wrong.

Wearing masks inspired by the Purge films, which imagine a society where all crime is legal for 24 hours a year, Stephen Rennie (52) and friend Alan Etherson, who has since died of a drugs overdose, targeted retired warehouseman Alistair Walker after he parked his four-month-old Jaguar XE outside Tesco in Camelon.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard when Mr Walker left the store, Rennie and Etherson, who’d parked next to the Jag in Rennie’s “£600 banger” Mercedes, jumped out, also wearing distinctive motorcycle gloves, and began hitting his shins with a rubber camping mallet.

Etherson (41) demanded the keys, shouting, ‘I’ve got a blade and I’m going to slash you’. Mr Walker (62) then gave him the key. At this point, however, things began to unravel for the crooks.

One leapt into the driver’s seat of Mr Walker’s car, but couldn’t master its “smart” ignition system.

Meanwhile, witness Jennifer Dick (38) saw a man wearing a mask attacking Mr Walker. Her partner, John Thom (39), then intervened and one of the men threw the keys to Mr Thom and got back in the Mercedes.

Both men sat in the car for “three to four minutes”, as Mrs Dick’s daughter and Mr Thom’s daughter photographed them, while Mr Thom peeled tape off the Mercedes, used to stick on stolen number plates, and Mrs Dick phoned police. Eventually they drove off.

Less than 45 minutes later, the men were seen on CCTV, wearing the same clothes, at Asda in Cumbernauld, near Rennie’s home. They then parked the getaway car close to his front door before “disposing” of their clothing in an Asda bag.

Police found the items the next day in a skip at the flat where Rennie lived in Glenacre Road, Cumbernauld, directly under a rubbish chute from his kitchen, and Rennie was arrested. Etherson was not present.

After a three-day trial, a jury took less than 50 minutes to find Rennie guilty of assaulting Mr Walker — who was only slightly injured — and attempting to rob his car on April 4, 2018.

Murray Aitken, defending, said: “Mr Rennie hasn’t committed any offences since, and has no other pending cases outstanding.”

Imposing the jail term, Sheriff John Mundy told Rennie: “It’s clear you were involved in this very serious matter as part of a common purpose with Alan Etherson.”

Prosecutor Samantha Brown said: “Mrs Dick and Mr Thom should be absolutely admired for intervening when they saw Mr Walker being struck on the legs with the rubber mallet.”

Of the crime itself, she added: “The operation wasn’t terribly sophisticated.”