A LARGS man accused of armed robbery at a supermarket has told how he has endured nearly four years of 'sheer hell' after a botched prosecution against him was finally dropped.

Finlay McIntyre had been charged with holding up the Co-op in Wemyss Bay in January 2021.

But the Crown Office has now ditched the indictment case due to a lack of evidence.

Mr McIntyre, 56, had been accused of raiding the store of cash with his face masked, and of threatening a staff member whilst armed with a bladed weapon and a metal pole.

He and his wife Karen, 42 - who were themselves the victims of a vicious knife assault months earlier, for which their attackers were jailed for more than nine years - had just begun to rebuild their lives from the grip of addiction and the scars of the horror incident.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Finlay and Karen McIntyreFinlay and Karen McIntyre (Image: George Munro)

As they steeled themselves for a trial, the couple - who say the robbery investigation was bungled from beginning to end - were informed that the case had been dropped.

Mr McIntyre said: "I thought I was going to jail for something I never did."

He had maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, and said a lack of proper scrutiny of suspects resulted in his name being dragged through the mud after he had worked hard to mend relationships and restore his reputation.

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Mr McIntyre told our sister title, the Greenock Telegraph: "My name got mentioned in the Tele for [allegedly] doing a robbery that I never did, and it was in the Largs and Millport Weekly News as well.

"I volunteer in Largs, so there were people I volunteer with asking me how that case was getting on.

"They had their own opinions."

Mrs McIntyre said: "It had an impact on his family as well, even though they wouldn't say it.

"You could feel that shred of doubt, because they were thinking, 'police don't charge you with something if they've not got something on you'.

"But that was completely the case."

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The couple pointed to the absence of DNA evidence, the fact that Mr McIntyre's phone never left his home in Largs at the time, and inconclusive CCTV footage as proof that he was not involved in the violent hold-up.

Mr McIntyre said: "You could see it wasn't me a mile away, but they [the police] were adamant it was me."

It was reported in July 2023 that the protracted case had hit another delay caused by 'the inability of police officers to find productions to be analysed'.

A pre-trial hearing was told that a label for Mr McIntyre's DNA had been 'inadvertently destroyed'.

After being informed that prosecutors would not be pursuing the charge, his reaction was one of more than just relief.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Finlay McIntyreFinlay McIntyre (Image: George Munro)

He said: "I was angry. There wasn't even an apology, nothing.

"Just a phone call off my lawyer saying, 'Finlay, that's it, it's been dropped'."

Mrs McIntyre added: "Nobody took accountability for the fact that he went through nearly four years of sheer hell, after building up a year-and-a-half of trust with his family after being in addiction for years.

"The day they came down and charged him, all that just got taken away from him completely."

Mr McIntyre said: "People think you got away with it because of a technicality."

"I feel let down by Police Scotland. It was a pure balls-up from start to finish."

Finlay McIntyre 

He said he suffered a mental breakdown as a result of the loneliness, pressure and paranoia brought on by the proceedings.

The couple are now in the process of filing an official complaint with Police Scotland, seeking answers and an apology.

In a message to doubters, Mrs McIntyre said: "We told you it wasn't Finlay from the start."

Mr McIntyre added: "Maybe Police Scotland, if they'd have done their investigation right, they'd have realised it wasn't me as well."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: The couple said they're on the side of the victim of the alleged robbery at the Wemyss Bay Co-op who has also not got any justiceThe couple said they're on the side of the victim of the alleged robbery at the Wemyss Bay Co-op who has also not got any justice

A spokesperson for the Crown Office said: “The procurator fiscal received a report relating to a 56-year-old male and an incident said to have occurred on January 17, 2021.

“After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the available admissible evidence, the procurator fiscal decided that there should be no proceedings taken at this time.

"The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available."

Police Scotland did not address the points raised by Mr McIntyre.

A force spokesperson said: "A 53-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with an alleged robbery at a shop on Shore Road, Wemyss Bay on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

“He was released on an undertaking to appear at Greenock Sheriff Court at a later date. A report was submitted to the procurator fiscal."