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Gloucestershire Business News

Knifepoint robbery results in two and a half year jail sentence

A Moreton-in-Marsh man who burst into a Cheltenham convenience store armed with a knife and tried to rob a shocked employee has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Anthony Smith, 22, of Stockwell Road, Moreton, pleaded guilty at Gloucester crown court to assault with intent to rob while armed with a knife and possessing a knife in a public place and was sentenced on Monday (25 November) at Gloucester Crown Court.

Prosecutor Clare Fear told the court that Laurentiu Duta was working at the Albion Stores, Albion Street, in Cheltenham at 5am on May 5 this year when Smith entered the shop momentarily but went away and then returned 10 minutes later.

Ms Fear said: "Smith returned to the convenience store armed with a kitchen knife and grabbed Mr Duta's wrist and wrestled him onto a low level freezer and began punching him and threatening him with the knife.

"He demanded that Mr Duta go to the till and give him the cash. However, a member of the public and another store employee disarmed the man before he ran off."

The court was told that the police were called and during their investigation Smith returned and gave himself up.

Matthew Harbinson, defending, said: "Smith returned to the shop 10 minutes after the attempted robbery and gave himself up to the police.

"Smith went up to the uniformed officer and said, 'I did this' and admitted to them that he was forced to carry out the offence.

"He has steadfastly maintained that there was a 'manly figure' who ordered him to carry out the offence while he was intoxicated."

Judge Ian Lawrie QC interjected and said: "The probation service have described this as being a 'fanciful' explanation."

Mr Harbinson added: "Smith was so intoxicated he could not recall any rational account of his actions.

"He has not drunk significantly since this incident.

"Smith has even written a letter to his victim apologising to him for his actions. He has been on bail since his arrest and he has not come to the attention of the police in the meantime."

Judge Lawrie said to Smith: "Sentencing in your case presents me with a dilemma. You are young with no previous convictions yet you gave a fanciful explanation over what you did.

"You held a knife in a prolonged incident that involved an element of planning. The shop you targeted was vulnerable, especially first thing in the morning.

"I've thought long and hard to see if I can suspend the sentence, but I am unable to as a community order would not be appropriate justice."

The judge sentenced Smith to two years and six months in prison and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £149.

The judge concluded: "I don't know what happened to you that night. In reality your offending is so serious that I have no option but to impose a custodial sentence."

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