A balaclava-clad criminal needed 64 staples in his head after a botched raid on a secluded Fife house.
David Barclay came off second best after attacking his former boss in a failed bid to get his hands on cash.
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard Barclay and two accomplices, who were all wearing balaclavas and ski masks, turned up at the isolated property armed with knives.
Barclay forced his way into the house and was unmasked by Mr Cleary.
In the ensuing struggle the raider was knocked out by a falling curtain pole.
Barclay had previously worked for 65-year-old Mr Cleary as a removal man.
Fiscal depute Jamie Hilland told the court Mr Cleary was entertaining friends, John McGowan and Sarah Carberry at his rural property, between Burntisland and Aberdour.
Mr McGowan was outside at 8.30pm on the night of the raid and noticed Barclay and two other men.
Mr Hilland said: “All three men were wearing dark clothing, including ski masks and balaclavas.
“The accused was carrying a knife, which was described as a lock knife with a blade around two inches long, similar to a Stanley knife.
“The two other men had similar-looking weapons.”
Barclay yelled at Mr McGowan, demanding to know where Mr Cleary was, before barging into the house.
Mr McGowan struck out at one of the other men, causing him to stumble back.
Mr Hilland said: “Mr McGowan began throwing items from the garden at the two men.
“He was throwing anything within reach, including plant pots.”
He entered the house, pursued by the two men.
Pressed knife against neck
Meanwhile, Mr Cleary was in the living room with Miss Carberry when Barclay burst in, brandishing the knife and demanding: ‘Where’s your money?’
He grabbed the mask from the accused and recognised Barclay.
Mr Hilland said: “He grabbed the blade of the knife with his right hand, moving his hand down towards the handle because he was determined not to be stabbed.
“Mr Cleary and the accused began to fight in the living room.
“At one point the accused had the complainer in a headlock, holding the knife to his neck.
“The complainer had blood on his hands and face and was trying to use his hand to push the knife away.
“He thinks he managed to hit the accused, causing him to drop the knife.”
Mr McGowan waded into the fight, knocking Barclay to the ground and then fended off the other two men by throwing bottles at them.
Mr Hilland said: “Mr McGowan struck the accused on his head with his right elbow.
“This temporarily incapacitated him, freeing Mr McGowan up to chase the other two men out of the address.
“Upon returning inside Mr McGowan saw that the accused was on his feet wrestling with Mr Cleary again.
“He struck the accused, causing all three to fall to the floor in front of the living room window, pulling the curtains and curtain pole down on top of them.
“The accused appeared to strike his head on the radiator as they fell.”
Miss Carberry, who had fled to a bedroom, called the police, with officers arriving around 50 minutes later.
They found Barclay still lying on the living room floor.
Mr Cleary said he feared he would have been more seriously injured had Mr McGowan and Miss Carberry not been there.
Barclay was treated in Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, receiving 64 staples in his head, and was released the next day.
Solicitor Zander Flett, defending, said Barclay, who was on licence in relation to a previous conviction, was under the influence of alcohol and Valium at the time of the raid.
He said: “After release from his prison sentence he struggled to get his life back on track.
“He seems to have come off very much the worst in this incident.
“He had significant injuries – when he was found by police he had 16 separate injuries, 12 of which were to his head.”
Barclay, a prisoner at Glenochil, admitted assaulting Mr Cleary with intent to rob him on May 15.
Calling it “an extremely sinister and alarming offence”, Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist jailed Barclay for three years.
He also ordered him to serve 15 months in relation to the unexpired portion of his previous sentence.