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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Tribute to OAP who tackled robber
Helen McAdam [Pic: Spindrift]
Mrs McAdam carried on with her shopping after chasing the robber
A pensioner who chased an armed robber with her handbag has been likened to Glasgow Airport hero John Smeaton by court prosecutors.

Helen McAdam, 71, found herself in the middle of a raid on a security van as she popped into her local Tesco for a pint of milk.

The 5ft 4in grandmother swung into action after being threatened at gunpoint by 44-year-old William Carlin.

Carlin was jailed for eight years at the High Court in Glasgow.

During Carlin's trial, Mrs McAdam described how she spotted a security guard being held up at gunpoint as he was about to load a cash machine with money.

I'd face the devil. I've raised a big family and I'm afraid of nobody
Helen McAdam

The guard handed over a cash box containing 19,000.

Mrs McAdam said she lost her temper and swore at the gunman when he threatened her and told her to get out of his way.

She said: "I tried to hit him with my handbag. I was angry. When I swung it he was away like a shot."

Mrs McAdam then chased Carlin and memorised the make and colour of his getaway car and a partial registration.

She handed the details in to Tesco before carrying on with her shopping.

When she returned home she told husband Danny: "You'll never believe what happened at the supermarket, a man stuck a gun on me. I never put that on my shopping list."

Terror attack

In court Mrs McAdam referred to the security guard who handed over the money box as "a wimp."

When asked by prosecutor Iain McSporran if she would do the same thing again if confronted by an armed man, she said: "I'd face the devil. I've raised a big family and I'm afraid of nobody."

Her courage drew praise from Mr McSporran, who told the jury: "Mrs McAdam proves that it's not just Glasgow Airport workers that criminals shouldn't mess with."

The comment was a reference to airport baggage handler Mr Smeaton and others who foiled the terror attack in June.

John Smeaton
Mr Smeaton tackled two terror suspects at Glasgow Airport

Carlin was convicted of robbing a security guard of a case containing 19,000 at Tesco in Glasgow Road, Kilmarnock, on 6 February and a firearms offence.

Jailing him, judge Lord Carloway said: "This is the third offence of robbery you have committed in the last decade.

"You were on licence when this offence was committed."

In evidence Carlin, from Kilmarnock, claimed that he had sold the car involved in the robbery - a Vauxhall Cavalier - to a man called Richard, but said he had no way of tracing him.

Carlin was cleared of robbing a security guard of 6,500 at Asda in Queens Drive, Kilmarnock, on 28 January, after the jury found the case not proven. He had denied all the charges against him.

Mrs McAdam was said to be relaxing at a beauty salon for her weekly hair appointment as Carlin was led away to begin his sentence.

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