A ROBBER who was arrested as he sat drinking stolen lager in a garden 50 yards away from the shop he had raided is today behind bars.
Lee Wilson, who was armed with a knife, took four cans of Fosters from the Premier Store in Jarrow – where staff had known him since he was a boy.
The 28-year-old then sat drinking in a garden nearby, where he was spotted by one of the shop owners, who alerted the police. Wilson, of Medway, Jarrow, pleaded guilty to robbery and having a bladed article and was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.
Judge Roger Thorn QC told him: “Robbery of small shop enterprises is a matter of increasing concern.
“Shop holders need to be protected and they are protected by the sentencing guidelines.”
The court heard Wilson had gone into the shop, which was staffed by a woman worker, on August 27 with a knife sticking out from his trouser waistband and helped himself to four cans, which he said he would not be paying for.
Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, told the court: “She could see the knife in his waistband, so she did not challenge him because of that.”
The court heard when one of the woman’s relatives found out what had happened he looked at the CCTV in the shop and then drove around looking for the culprit.
Miss Smurthwaite said: “He was surprised to see he was so close to the shop after the theft. The defendant, in fact, is known to the shop owner’s father. He has known him since he was a small child, more than 20 years ago.”
The court heard when police arrived to arrest Wilson he tried to bite one of the officers and threatened to “slash them up”.
During police interview, he made a statement saying he feared the cider he had been drinking may have interfered with prescription medication he was on. His statement said: “I have got some money so I don’t really know what this is about. I had no intention of using the knife or harming anybody. I am sorry for the trouble caused and would offer an explanation if I had one.
“I am afraid I don’t understand and I am ashamed to have frightened the woman in the shop. I feel very foolish.”
John Wilkinson, defending, said: “When he is sober he is a perfectly decent young man. He committed the offence and went 50 yards down the road and sat in the garden with a friend. He knew the lady involved and they clearly knew him.
“He was never going to get away with it.”
Judge Thorn said he accepted the offence may have been a “cry for help” by Wilson, who has just one previous conviction.