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Gloucestershire Business News

Jail for persistent offenders who robbed Gloucestershire restaurant

A Cheltenham restaurant owner and her manager were terrorised when two armed, masked men burst in and violently robbed them of the night's takings, a court heard today.

Purdey Spooner was sitting at a table in the White Spoon restaurant at 12.30am on April 28th sorting out money for banking when David Davison and Daniel Martin entered, Gloucester crown court was told.

One of the men pinned down manager Francesco Kotza in an armlock while the other approached Ms Spooner and grabbed the cash.

In a victim impact statement read to the court Mr Kotza said his 'blood froze' and he thought he was going to die when he felt something metallic being pressed to his throat.

Davison, 39, of no fixed address, and Martin, of Finch Road, Innwsworth, both pleaded guilty to robbing Ms Purdey of £300.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC jailed them for four years each and added five months to Martin's sentence for breaching a community order imposed for an earlier burglary.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said Mr Kotza had been putting some bottles outside in a recycling bin when he was grabbed from behind as he was re-entering the restaurant.

He was put in a headlock and felt something metal by his jaw, she said. The man holding him said 'Where's the money?'

Mr Kotza told him he had no money and was pushed into a corner, knocking over a coat stand. His assailant demanded he open the till but Mr Kotza said it was empty.

At that point Mr Kotza realised there was a second robber, whose gloved hand he saw opening the till. That man then ran into the restaurant, shocking Ms Spooner who had heard all the noise but thought it was outside in the street.

She had £390 in cash on the table as the robber ran at her holding a crowbar, said the prosecutor.

He put the crowbar down on the table as he scooped up the cash, asking if she had any more anywhere. She told him she had lost the key to the safe, which was true, and the man's response was to threaten that Mr Kotza would 'get it' if she did not comply.

However, both men then fled the restaurant with the cash. Ms Spooner immediately called police and gave a description of the bandana-wearing robbers and soon afterwards a CCTV operator spotted them and tracked them on the town's cameras until officers found and arrested them.

In his statement, Mr Kotza said: "I was extremely frightened for both myself and Ms Purdey. I have never been in a situation like that before and I hope never to be again. I feel angry that people could come into our place of work and subject us to that.

"I am also worried and angry that Ms Purdey, a mother of a young child, has been frightened in this way. Their behaviour was extremely cowardly. If they were to face up to me without weapons I think things would be extremely different."

Ms Spooner said: "I found the whole thing scary. I can no longer work on my own and I have had to ask staff to work longer hours so there is always more than one person in the restaurant. I am nervous when I leave and I use a torch to check that no-one else is around."

She said the business had also suffered a drop off in customers because news of the robbery had got around.

Mrs Wood said Martin has made 24 previous court appearances for 53 offences and Davison has committed 89 previous offences.

Steve Young, for Martin, said the two men had gone out that night intending to commit a burglary but when walking past the restaurant had heard talking from inside about money and had gone in on the spur of the moment. It was an opportunist robbery and not a pre-planned one, he said.

"He is deeply ashamed of his behaviour. He does not want to be known as someone who goes into premises threatening women who are carrying out their jobs."

Sarah Jenkins, for Davison, said once the two men had entered the restaurant they were in a 'blind panic' because they had not though things through. She also argued that the robbery was 'very much off the cuff'.

Davison had been suffering from an on-off but increasingly serious drug problem for the last 15 years, she said.

He had been clean for 18 months until just a few weeks before the robbery when he relapsed against the background of his relationship breaking down.

Picture credit: Imagery ©2018 Google maps, Map data ©2018 Google

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