Men jailed after attempted robbery and stabbing
By Court reporter | 22nd January 2019
Two men who attempted to rob the Texaco service station on Lansdown Road, Cheltenham last October - stabbing the lone worker there four times in the process - were jailed for six years and eight months each.
Jamie Eyre, 26, of Meadowvale, Dursley, and Russell Jacques, 22, of Alstone Lane, Cheltenham both pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of Shaji Cherian of money on 18th October last year.
Prosecutor Janine Wood said Mr Cherian was stabbed three times in his right thigh and once in his left leg.
The brave storeworker, who could be seen on the CCTV played in court to be struggling with the two would be robbers, was also struck over the head with a bottle which one of the defendants took from a shelf.
Judge Ian Lawrie QC ruled, however, that Eyre and Jacques should not be classed as 'dangerous offenders' who needed extended custodial sentences.
"I can deal with it by an ordinary but significant custodial sentence," he told the men.
Mrs Wood said Eyre and Jacques first entered the Texaco filling station shop area at 2.45am.
The prosecutor said the shop is locked overnight, but Mr Cherian had the discretion to let customers in.
Their first visit passed uneventfully, but they returned ten minutes later having swapped jackets and with their hoods up in an attempt to disguise themselves.
From the CCTV footage, Mr Cherian could be seen approaching the door to manually let them back in.
As soon as they entered the second time Mr Cherian was grabbed and put into a headlock.
Eyre put a knife to his throat, Mrs Wood said. Jacques shouted at him to open the till and give them the money.
At this stage Eyre stabbed Mr Cherian in his right thigh, and when he resisted further, he was stabbed again this time in the left leg.
"He was stabbed twice more," the prosecutor said. "Then hit over head with bottle by Jacques.
"The victim tried to get attention banging his head on window," Mrs Wood said, and this was noticed by a customer who had just arrived on the forecourt.
"This brought the incident to an end," the barrister told the judge, and Eyre and Jacques could be seen making off.
Mr Cherian was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery for his wounds, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Cherian said: "I was in fear for my life.
"They both attacked me with knives, almost as soon as they entered the shop on the second occasion."
The court heard Mr Cherian was 'healing well, and only gets occasional pain'.
Mrs Wood said: "They had been to petrol station before, could see the man was working on his own. It was an opportunity to commit a robbery against a man in vulnerable circumstances."
The prosecutor turned to the men's record of past offending.
Eyre had 8 previous court appearances for 16 offences, including burglary, theft, handling stolen goods, aggravated vehicle taking and other driving offences with 'one matter of violence'.
Jacques had accumulated a record of 16 offences in 9 previous convictions including a previous robbery in which a man was punched in the face, and a woman had her bag ripped from her shoulder.
He also had offences of burglary, theft, violence and criminal damage on his record.
Turning to sentencing guidelines, Mrs Wood described it as a category 1A robbery, which has a starting point of eight years before discount for a guilty plea.
"This was a serious incident," the prosecutor said. "They took the opportunity to come back armed, to try and rob the place.
"He fought back. It was fortunate that someone came to the garage, disturbed them and that is why it ended the way it did," she concluded.
Representing Eyre, Sarah Jenkins argued against the probation officer's assessment of her client as 'high risk'.
The lawyer said that it was not a 'sophisticated' attempted robbery: "They only went so far as swapping jackets and putting hoods up to disguise themselves."
Judge Lawrie noted both men were intoxicated at the time of the incident and said: "None of them were in a fit state to form a contrived plan. There was a degree of reconnaissance.
"There is no sophisticated planning but there has been some forethought."
"Had there not been a struggle, those wounds would not have been caused," Mrs Jenkins said. "That is not what they went in there for.
"As soon as there was an element of disturbance or risk, they are quite quick to retreat and leave the scene," she said.
Setting out the background to Eyre's offending she said: "At the time there was frequent excessive alcohol use, binges on illegal drugs, and no address.
"In his words his head was all over the place.
"He is able to recognise that supervision would be of benefit to him.
"He wants to leave the area, and away from the associates that are a bad influence on him.
"He continues to assert that this is hugely out of character for him, in terms of violence and the risk.
"What he had drunk was an disinhibitor.
"He wants to come up with a way that he will not commit this offence again."
She set out her client's dissatisfaction with the pre-sentence report interview with a probation officer saying 'he felt that words were being put in his mouth'.
Matthew Harbinson, representing Jacques, said "There was no planning as far as the initial trip was concerned, it was for the purposes for making a purchase.
"They recognised it was a garage staffed by one person.
"What they are doing does not seem to make sense.
"They are bumbling around, wrecking the whole thing."
The lawyer described it as: "A fog of ill considered plans, badly executed by both."
Mr Harbinson said his client had 'made progress' since his release from his last prison sentence, and had formed a relationship.
However when that broke down Jacques stopped taking anti-psychotic medication, lost his accommodation, and began drinking and taking illegal drugs.
"He struggles with life skills," the lawyer said.
"That is not surprising when considering number of different homes he has been through during the course of his adolescence.
"He describes himself as a bit dopey, and finds it hard to understand very simple concepts being explained to him.
"I do not believe he relished the lifestyle in the lead up to the offence in the same way that others do.
"I don't think that characterises him as a dangerous offender," Mr Harbinson argued.
"He is unreliable, but that is a world away from recidivist dangerous offending."
"This only happened when the wheels came off almost every aspect of his life.
"He bitterly regrets the actions.
"As he waited at the door he had that impending sense of something was about to happen would have far reaching consequences but had gone so far with it that he could not back out."
Mr Harbinson added: "When he is well, he leads a normal life."
Imposing the eighty month jail term, Judge Lawrie said: "You walked in armed with weapons which you deployed, executing violence on person managing the shop.
"You both have previous convictions.
"Your background has had a baleful impact on your life.
"There are features about your lives that cause me concern," the judge said.
"The psychological harm will stalk the victim's life," he told them.
"There was no significant planning, neither of you in a state to indulge in that level of forethought, but there was an element of chance reconnaissance.
"Once you realised he was on his own, you took advantage of it.
"These sort of locations are vulnerable.
"That one minute would have been one of the longest minutes of the victim's life.
"You both have a great deal of work to do."
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