Teenager locked up for armed raid on family who took him in

Gary Ralston was part of a masked raid on the home of Marion Bowmaker in Cowie, Stirlingshire.

Gary Ralston: Teenager sentenced to four years' detention for robbery.
Gary Ralston: Teenager sentenced to four years' detention for robbery. Central Scotland News Agency

A teenager has been locked up for an armed robbery on a family who took him in after he was caught at the centre of a scandal involving his teacher.

Gary Ralston was part of a masked raid on the home of Marion Bowmaker in Cowie, Stirlingshire in December 2015.

Ms Bowmaker had earlier given Ralston a home after his fling with married history teacher Bernadette Smith emerged.

The 19 year-old, however, teamed up with a convicted criminal to carry out an attack which the teenager himself admitted was "like a scene from a horror movie".

Ralston was sentenced to four years behind bars at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

He had earlier denied the assault and robbery but a judge heard how he had since made a "full confession" to social workers.

Lord Ericht told Ralston: "The Bowmakers took you in and treated you like a son. You repaid that kindness with a vicious robbery in their home."

As Ralston was lead to the cells, his father Richard shouted: "Keep the head up, son". 

A woman beside him added: "Love you."

Ralston joined robber Gavin Landsborough, 25, to target the Bowmaker family home. 

The jury heard how Ms Bowmaker had looked after Ralston when the relationship with his teacher hit the headlines.

He had also been at primary school with her 19 year-old son Ben.

Ralston texted Landsborough the night before the raid, which included a threat to anyone in the house.

The accomplice replied he had weapons and gloves. They later burst into Ms Bowmaker's house after she went to let her dog out.

Ralston kept the terrified mother downstairs while Landsborough initially tried to hack into her son's room with an axe.

Ralston then joined him before a light was smashed out with a baseball bat. 

The duo grabbed three mobile phones, £20 in cash along with a new PlayStation 4 console.

At one point, Landsborough called Ralston "Gary" before instead saying his name was "Johnnie". 

Ben Bowmaker told the jury how he knew it was Ralston in his home, someone he described as an "old school friend".

When the pair tried to flee, they initially could not open the door. Landsborough then could not see through his balaclava so ripped it off giving his victims a look at his face.

Ms Bowmaker recalled thinking at the time: "How can he (Ralston) do that to me, how can he repay us by coming in to rob us with weapons and terrify us?"

Ben Bowmaker's girlfriend, who also happened to be in the house that night, was later on the same bus as Ralston, who had the PS4 in a sports bag.

Landsborough was first to be caught by police at his home the next day. He had the games console along with the balaclavas and weapons.

He was later jailed for 40 months for his part in the crime. Ralston, of Stirling, had gone to trial after denying being involved.

During a meeting with social workers compiling a pre-sentencing report, he admitted he now wanted to tell the "truth" and make "a full confession".

His lawyer Drew McKenzie said on Thursday: "He speaks of his shame at taking part in such a horrific offence.

"He acknowledges that, at one point, it was like a scene from a horror film."

The advocate added Ralston had an "unhappy childhood" and had felt "pressure" from Landsborough to get involved in the raid.

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