A cocaine addict who staged four terrifying raids on post offices in four days – including one in Fife – has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.
Thomas McGarva left one distressed woman victim describing her struggle with him as “fighting for her life”.
McGarva targeted lone woman employees in three of the premises where he made off with cash but at the fourth three men working at the post office fought back and he fled empty-handed.
A judge told McGarva, 39, at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You pled guilty to four charges of assault and robbery or attempted robbery of four post office premises within a period of four days in January this year.”
Lady Scott told him it had been a planned course of conduct and added: “You went armed with and used weapons, including a knife and hammer and you caused significant psychological harm.”
The judge said she would have jailed McGarva, who was previously imprisoned for robbery, for 10 years but for his guilty pleas.
Unemployed McGarva, formerly of St Leonards Road, East Kilbride, first struck on January 6 at the Post Office in Main Street, Glenboig, in Lanarkshire, when he attacked Francine Wladysiuk, 56, and robbed her of almost £1,800 and stamps.
McGarva carried out his next raid on the Premier Express store and post office in Busby Road, Clarkston, in Glasgow, the following day.
Three men, Rhowan Bagri, 26, Sukhchen Singh Atwal, 66, and Gulab Singh, 38, were working in the premises when McGarva came in and asked for a form. He demanded money but Mr Bagri blocked him getting behind the counter.
McGarva pulled out an item looking like a gun and struck him with it. While one of his colleagues held a door Mr Bagri got a hammer.
When the raider saw the hammer he said: “That’s it, you’re getting it.” He pulled out a large knife and ran out the door and repeatedly tried to strike Mr Bagri and a fellow worker with the weapon.
Mr Singh managed to push the robber towards the exit and when he was near the door he turned and fled.
Two days later McGarva carried out a further robbery at a post office in Fife. He turned up at High Street premises in Burntisland and told employee Maria Nawaz, 36, that he was from the Post Office and was there to fix the till “for health and safety reasons”.
She said she would have to speak to head office and went to pick up the phone but McGarva opened tills and grabbed money. He ordered her to open a safe and warned: “Don’t make a noise.”
The victim, who could see he was armed with a knife, pleaded with him not to take the money as it was not hers, but he responded: “Tough luck”.
McGarva grabbed banknotes from the safe and walked out the premises with £6,000.
A short time later he turned up at Nicky’s Convenience Store and Post Office in Elphinstone Street, Kincardine.
Nicky Erskine was working alone in the premises and McGarva chatted to her until customers left, before jumping on the counter and stating: “Right you b***h give me everything.”
During a struggle she managed to activate an alarm.
He fled with a cash box containing £300, stamps and postal orders.
Defence solicitor advocate Stephen Drymen said that McGarva had a substantial addiction to illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, over many years.