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Thieves startled by general's roar

A RETIRED general who led the Stone of Destiny back into Scotland last night told how he beat off burglars with a parade ground roar when they walked into the bedroom.

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Major General Sir John Swinton, Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, was asleep in bed when the thieves broke in just before dawn at Kimmerghame, his period mansion home near Duns in the Borders. Sir John, 72, who has an artificial leg, said: ''I woke from a deep sleep to find the intruders in the room. I reacted pretty strongly with a yell and they scarpered. ''It was a tremendous shock - I hope as much for them as for us. I don't think they realised there was anyone in the house. ''I couldn't exactly jump out of bed because I only have one leg. But when I got moving I put on the security lighting and rang the police. By that time, the thieves were disappearing down the drive in their car.'' Sir John, who was twice wounded as a young Scots Guards officer at the end of the war, found a scene of devastation when he got downstairs. He said: ''The thieves had smashed two windows and three doors. They made a dreadful mess and had taken silver and porcelain.'' Meanwhile, the thieves were heading towards the English border when they met a police car heading to Kimmerghame in response to Sir John's 999 call. As the patrol car stopped and turned round to give chase, the driver of the thieves' car crashed. A Borders Police spokesman said last night: ''The car - a blue Mondeo - crashed into a ditch and was badly damaged. The thieves ran off on foot. We brought in tracker dogs but the men - there were probably two of them - had escaped before we could get enough reinforcements into the area.'' Sir John marched beside Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth in front of the Stone of Destiny when it was escorted back into Scotland last summer.

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