A MAN who robbed a Balloch tourist at knifepoint, stole his caravan, and then led police on a high-speed car chase, causing police dogs and helicopter to be called into action, faces a lengthy jail term.

Last Tuesday, Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard how John Devine, 27, who has a catalogue of previous convictions, befriended an English couple touring Scotland.

On August 7, this year, they parked up their caravan camper van at the car park at Moss O' Balloch.

Fiscal depute Kevin Doherty told the court: “The man and his girlfriend were from England and had travelled that particular day from Fort William to Balloch and parked around 6pm and were planning to stay overnight.

“They sat having a drink and at 8.30pm they were approached by Devine, who invited them to join him and his friends at their tent.

“They walked for about 10 to 15 minutes and sat down at the tent where they spent an hour or two.

“There was a disagreement between Devine’s two friends, so the man and his girlfriend decided to head back to their van. Mr Devine walked back with them.

“When they were almost there the girlfriend needed the toilet and went to a nearby bush.

“The man soon after felt something pressing against his chest with Mr Devine standing beside him. Devine said to him ‘give me the keys to your van.’

“He thought it was a joke and began laughing.

“Devine repeated the request and the man felt something sharp against his jumper. It was a knife with a three to four inch blade.

“He brandished a knife at the tourist and told him to drop his keys to the ground.

“Devine walked towards the van as the girlfriend returned. Devine got into the driver’s seat and drove off at speed towards the main road.

“The man phoned the police, who attended and found the couple in a distressed state. Essential medication was in the stolen caravan.

“A bulletin was issued by police and, 21 minutes later, traffic police in Milngavie saw the van travelling at high speed on Stockiemuir Road, Milngavie. A high-speed chase ensued for 1.4 miles towards Milngavie town centre.

“Devine drove on the opposite carriageway and went through a red light and at excessive speeds in a built-up area through a junction at Douglas Street and collided with a bollard, bringing the chase to an end.

“Devine ran off towards Allander Water. Police dogs were summoned and a police helicopter called into action as back-up.

“He was soon located and gave himself up, arrested and handcuffed. He was taken to Clydebank police office for questioning. He was found to have been a disqualified driver and had no insurance.”

The court heard that the camper van was extensively damaged, with the insurers writing it off for £2,500.

His defence lawyer said: “The incident was fuelled by drink and poor decision making.

“It was a moment of madness and poor judgement.

“Drink and drugs have played a big part in his offending behaviour. He has spent the last decade in and out of custody.”

Sheriff Simon Pender deferred sentence on Devine, whose address was given as a prisoner of Low Moss Prison, Bishopbriggs, until November 21 to obtain a full social background report and a risk assessment report with a view to putting him on a supervised released order or an extended prison sentence. He was remanded in custody.