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Armed police caught Fife man raiding NATO ‘golf ball’ at Balado

Grant Kempson raided the golf ball building at Balado
Grant Kempson raided the golf ball building at Balado

A thief was found by armed police, hiding in the roof space of the Kinross “golf ball” former NATO military radar centre.

Grant Kempson was wedged under a tank inside the distinctive military building when a police firearms unit arrived to investigate reports of a security breach.

Kempson, who had been at the site with another man, had cut through two perimeter security fences and was caught in the act of trying to steal from it.

He was found near freshly cut lengths of metal cable.

Kempson, 50, of Cluny Park, Cardenden, admitted being found on the roof of the former military radar base at Balado, by Kinross, on June 17.

He admitted being there in circumstances from which it was reasonable to infer he intended to commit theft.

A second man, Ryan Wotherspoon, 40, had a similar charge dropped by the Crown.

Kempson was said to be lucky to be alive after his raid on the golf ball building

Police said at the time thousands of pounds of damage had been caused by Kempson and it was a “miracle” no-one was killed in the failed heist.

The unique golf ball-shaped building at Balado Bridge opened in 1942 as a satellite airfield to RAF Grangemouth and after being decommissioned, served as a NATO communication satellite ground station between 1985 and 2006.

The entire compound is surrounded by a burglar-proof double layered security fence and still contains an intercontinental ballistic missile warning radar.

Inside the base, doors were built to withstand a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

It has been for sale since 2014 and its price was slashed from £1.1 million to £950,000 last year.

The interior of the golf ball building. Supplied by Amazing Results Estate Agents Date; Unknown

Fiscal depute Lisa Marshall told Perth Sheriff Court: “This is the military radar base at Balado in a large compound surrounded by high metal mesh fence with barbed wire at the top.

“Just after midnight the owner was alerted by his CCTV system to a person within the perimeter fence.

“He could see periodic flashes of light from the main building.

“Police attended at 1am and conducted a search.

“They found a small break in the inner and outer fencing, large enough for a person to crawl through.

“Further assistance was brought to bear from a firearms unit and CID and further searches were undertaken.

“The accused’s Mitsubishi pick-up vehicle was parked in a nearby field.”

The owner arrived at 2 am to let police into the main building and they discovered double doors lying open and a black rucksack containing power tools and recently cut cables.

“A search was undertaken of the roof and the accused was found lying under a metal tank,” Mrs Marshall said.

Kempson told police: “I never broke in.”

Solicitor Christine Hagen, defending, told the court: “He has a record for dishonesty.

“There has been a reduction in the frequency and seriousness of his offending since the 1990s.”

She said he had been struggling financially since his partner had left him and had been living off savings until they ran out and his benefit claim had begun.

Sheriff James MacDonald said Kempson deserved a prison term but the maximum period he could jail him would be only three months – reduced to two for his early plea and likely halved again in due course.

He said: “This was quite patently a planned act of dishonesty on your part.

“You would get a discount for your early plea to two months and serving half that would mean one month, with nothing being done to address your behaviour.

“You could be seen as an undeserving beneficiary of the system but for that reason I am not going to send you to prison, although you deserve it.”

Kempson was fined £400.

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