A bungling housebreaker who preyed on a retired couple in Dunfermline got more than he bargained for when he was whacked over the head with a beaded South African knobkerrie.
Craig Pritchard has been jailed for breaking into his neighbours’ home, armed with a hunting knife, on March 29 2020.
Hapless Pritchard, now a prisoner at HMP Perth, knocked on the back door of James Hill and Gaynor Hynd-Hill’s cottage on West Nethertown Road at around 10pm.
Gaynor, 67, expecting it to be a lost delivery driver, joked with James to “just accept the pizza” as he got up to answer the door.
Unable to see balaclava-clad Pritchard through the door’s spyhole, James, 69, opened the door.
Pritchard, 42, barged his way in wearing all black, including gloves and balaclava and clutching a black-bladed hunting knife.
However, Pritchard was soon left regretting his decision and came off significantly worse than his intended victims.
‘Wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box’
Pritchard told the couple he would stab them if they phoned the police.
As he barged past James, Gaynor dived into the bedroom and grabbed an ornamental knobkerrie – a club used by hunters in South Africa – which the couple had joked about using on any intruders in the past.
Pritchard and James stumbled into the bedroom and Gaynor passed the mahogany-topped decoration to her husband, who got to work using it, as both men were scrambling on the bed.
At this point, Gaynor realised the robber “wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box.”
She told The Courier: “He had us both in different corners of the room, so there was no way he could watch us both.
“I could tell he wasn’t very good.
“He kept shouting ‘I’m going to f***ing stab you’ over and over and we didn’t know what he wanted.
“When he said he’d been sent by someone, I was a bit concerned, but when I asked who or what for, he just went back to saying ‘I’ll f***ing stab you’.”
Pritchard abandoned his plans and fled the cottage empty-handed and almost certainly with a splitting headache.
James had sustained a small cut to his wrist.
Gaynor believes his decision came at the right time as “there was every chance [Pritchard] was going to leave in a box” if the wrestling had continued.
After he disappeared, the couple phoned the police who soon had their man.
Pritchard was released on bail and Gaynor said she watched him in his flat just metres away “like a hawk”, from her seat in the living room.
She says the area had a steady police presence when the habitual criminal lived at the flat across from them but since being jailed, the street has returned to normal.
Last week, Pritchard appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court by video link from HMP Perth because he is currently serving a custodial sentence for wielding a hammer during an armed robbery at a Dunfermline petrol station.
He pled guilty to assaulting the couple, forcing his way into the property with his face masked, presenting a knife and uttering threats of violence.
He admitted that he did this with the intention of robbing his neighbour.
His defence solicitor explained he had battled drug misuse for “a long number of years” and was still struggling to come to terms with the “atrocities” he had seen while serving in the army more than a decade ago.
‘He just stood there and took it’
Gaynor said she suspects he was intoxicated when he attempted to raid her home.
“Either he was on something or he has a very high pain threshold.
“He just stood there and took it.”
Sheriff James Williamson described the offence as “extremely serious” and sentenced Pritchard to 45 months in prison.
This sentence will be served at the same time as Pritchard’s current custodial term, recently imposed at the High Court in Edinburgh.
‘We can laugh about it now’
The couple, who are Dunfermline born and bred, are not too shaken up but have installed CCTV and lights in their garden since the incident.
They are also looking forward to getting the knobkerrie, which was compounded as evidence, back home.
Gaynor added: “We can laugh about it now and we have laughed about it a lot.
“We don’t want it to take over our lives.
“It’s disappointing the sentences will be served together.
“He’s not a very good career criminal.
“Other criminals must think he’s giving them a bad name.”