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Gloucestershire Business News

Knife-wielding robber who terrorised staff and customers jailed

A knife-wielding robber who terrorised staff and customers in a McDonald's restaurant, an Aldi supermarket, a Spar shop and a filling station has been jailed for eight years.

Michael Lebon, 49, formerly of Stanley Terrace, Gloucester, who has a long criminal history with 123 previous offences on his record, was told by a judge yesterday (Tuesday 26) that he is a 'dangerous' man who must be locked up for longer than the normal sentencing guidelines.

Lebon's frightening trail of offences happened in July this year in Gloucester, Cinderford and Twyning, Gloucester Crown Court was told. Three of the were on the same day.

The first offence, on July 3, was at the Aldi store in Bristol road, Gloucester.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said: "Lebon arrived at the store by bicycle and immediately he made his way to the first cashier, Corina Mitran, who was initially unable to open the till drawer because a card transaction was taking place.

"This annoyed Lebon and he held a knife to her face and when the drawer eventually opened he grabbed around £500 in cash.

"Lebon (pictured right) went to a second cashier, Susan Naiden, and attempted the same manoeuvre. He threatened her with a Stanley knife, but he failed to rob her of any money.

"As he left the store he pointed the knife at other members of staff and customers before jumping on his bike and disappearing."

The prosecutor then told the court about the robberies he committed later in the month, on Sunday, July 28.

"Lebon arrived at the McDonald's store at 6.20am and walked up to two people and demanded their phones from them. Waving a knife around, he grabbed Frank Russell and put his arm around his neck and warned the others to follow him to the till.

"He shouted 'Oy' to the McDonald's staff member and threw him a bag and told him to fill it.

"Another member of staff jumped in to complete the request, but when Lebon realised there was not much money in the till he demanded to be taken to the safe.

"With Mr Russell still in an arm lock and wielding the knife he was taken to the safe where he helped himself to £450 before fleeing the restaurant.

"Just under four hours later he entered the Spar shop on Twyning's High Street at 10.10am.

"The cashier was alone in the shop. Lebon attempted to purchase a bottle of cider and handed the woman £3 but wrestled the till drawer open and grabbed around £360 from it."

The Green Apple service station in Cinderford's High Street was Lebon's next target.

"Lebon arrived at the petrol station at 2.40pm and went into the store," said Mrs Wood.

"He challenged Ben Grindle, who was behind the counter. Mr Grindle felt a sharp prick below his shoulder and Lebon told him it was a knife and ordered him to open the till drawer.

"He grabbed £200 in cash and stole around £300 in cigarettes."

The court was told that the police stopped a vehicle a short while later in which Lebon was hiding on the back seat under a pile of clothes.

The police recovered some of the cigarettes from his black rucksack. The money was never recovered.

Lebon told police in interview that he had carried out the robberies because his family had been evicted from their home.

The court was told that Lebon had been convicted 38 times for 123 offences.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC commented: "These robberies are very similar to his previous convictions in 2004. It seems he just doesn't learn his lesson. He frightens people. He puts them in fear of their lives."

In their victim statements the Aldi and McDonald's victims said that the attack had 'impacted' on their lives. The woman in the Spar shop said she was 'petrified and was in total shock' while Mr Grindle said that the incident had been 'frightening'.

Natalie Goffe, defending, said: "There was a significant trigger to spark this level of offending. He admitted to his offending because he was trying to support his family after being evicted."

Judge Lawrie said to Lebon: "Your offending at Aldi, McDonalds, the Spar shop and the Green Apple service station were all conducted with you wielding a knife.

"In light of your previous offending I believe you are dangerous. The consequences of your offending have left the victims fearing the worst, leaving them in distress.

""However you have shown a little remorse over your actions.

"I've read the reports into your background and you have a history of non compliance of court orders.

"A psychiatrist has also come as close as he can to say that you are dangerous.

"There is a pattern of similar offending, even if there is a 10-year gap. It just shows you have not learnt your lesson.

"You held staff and customers hostage while you carried out your crimes.

"The guidelines judges follow are not equipped to sentence you for your level of offending.

"You are a repeat offender and I consider that you are dangerous. You committed a sequence of events, which I feel can only be dealt with by an extended sentence."

The judge sentenced Lebon to eight years jail with an extended four year licence period, meaning that once he is released on parole he could be recalled to prison at any time during the next 12 years.

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