A Fife grandmother who was taken hostage in a terrifying armed robbery said the birth of her son’s twins just days earlier helped her through the ordeal.
Garry Roughley was jailed for six years after grabbing Helen Ritchie while she was home alone.
The ex-sniper, who had been watching her home at Crossford, near Dunfermline, blindfolded and bound her, before raiding her home.
Widow Helen, 78, was returning from dinner with a friend from Australia on May 4 2018 and it was one of the few nights she would be returning home alone, late at night.
Helen said: “He grabbed me on the stairs.
“He pushed me down and I screamed. I lost a shoe and he kept shouting ‘shut up woman.’
“He made me kneel and put a hood on me. He tied it around my eyes and tied my hands but made sure I could speak.
“He took my phone and my bag and tied my ankles. He had to help me up.
“Then he asked if anyone was in the house. I said no and he said my daughter was here last night.
“He kept asking for the safe but I don’t have one. I couldn’t move an inch. Each leg was tied to the chair.”
Rescued by neighbour
If it was not for the concern of a neighbour, who noticed her lights were still on late at night, Helen would have been left waiting for her daughter arriving back from England before anyone knew she was bound.
“My neighbour and I keep an eye out for each other.
“He knew something was up when the light was on after midnight.
“He’d been up watching a film or something because it was a holiday weekend. I was lucky.
“He came round and took his shoes off at the door before coming in.
“I think he got the fright of his life but we laugh about that now.”
Faith in police
Roughley remained at large for around two years even although Crimewatch had launched an appeal.
Helen never doubted the investigating officers and is pleased they were able to catch Roughley at last.
“The police were absolutely fantastic,” she said.
“They said from the start, they’re going to get him and they did.
“I’ve never had anything stolen before. I’ve lived here for 40 years.
“It’s so safe here, so it was so out of the blue and so unusual.
“He stole my wedding and engagement rings, which were most sentimental to me. We were married for 50 years.”
Bouncing back to her old self was grandmother’s instinct for Helen, who said even the horrifying ordeal she went through was not enough to take the shine off a memorable week for her family.
“This happened on the Friday and on the Monday that week, my son and his wife had welcomed their new twins.
“That’s what kept me going.
“My daughter was in London and my other son was in Spain on holiday.
“Because my phone had been stolen, the only place I could phone was the hospital, where they still were and it gave them a fright.”
Helen is not convinced serial criminal Roughley will learn his lesson but is relieved to see him behind bars.
“The radio was still on in the kitchen when I was tied up and when I heard the 12 o’clock news, I began to really worry.
“The worst part of it was the cable ties. He wrapped them around all my fingers. He was adamant that I wasn’t going to get away.
“I thought he could be a soldier when he tied me to the chair and put a hood over me.
“I hope he learned his lesson but I doubt it – he got six years last time and didn’t.”