Armed robber jailed for five years

A FRINTON jeweller whose life was "destroyed" after an armed robber held a 12 inch knife to his throat said his assailant "got what he deserved" after he was jailed for five years.

A FRINTON jeweller whose life was "destroyed" after an armed robber held a 12 inch knife to his throat said his assailant "got what he deserved" after he was jailed for five years.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterdayhow Harry Francis, 64, still suffered flashbacks of the day Paul Taylor held a 12 inch Bowie knife to his throat.

The ordeal, more than nine months ago, was also "a life changing incident" for a young female shop assistant who was threatened by the robber.

Taylor, 30, of Fernwood Avenue, Holland-on-Sea, admitted assault with intent to rob, possessing a bladed article and dangerous driving. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment, disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to take an extended driving test.

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After the hearing, Mr Francis, who was at the court to hear the sentence passed, said: "He got what he deserved, he has got a terrible track record. "Although he got five years, we have got the rest of our lives to deal with this. My business was ruined. He destroyed my life.

"I think about it all the time - you think if you had somebody standing there with a big knife at your throat. It gets you afterwards - if he had been a bit more nervous and slipped as he was in such a state when he did it.

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"For the first few months after the attack I was fine, all on a high because I had fought him off and then the impact hit me and I thought 'I am not going to stand here and be in danger anymore'.

"I am a bit annoyed about the actual criminal proceedings which have taken so long – these cases are costing the country millions."

Mr Francis's shop will be taken over by a new owner later this month.

The court heard that at the time Taylor was on licence from a seven-year sentence imposed in 1997 for four armed robberies.

Judge Alasdair Darroch ordered that Taylor should be recalled to serve a further 18 months of that sentence, to run consecutively to the five-year sentence.

He also imposed a five-year extended sentence, which means that if Taylor offends within the next 10 years he can be recalled to prison.

Judge Darroch told Taylor: "You made a sustained threat to a man and woman in the robbery attempt and I have to consider the impact statements."

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said the incident happened at 9.20am on October 12 last year at HBJ Jewellers in Connaught Avenue, Frinton.

Taylor walked into the shop and brandished a Bowie knife. He leant across the counter and said to Mr Francis: "Don't move. Don't press any buttons."

Taylor rolled down a balaclava he was wearing on his head and grabbed hold of Mr Francis. He placed the knife under his chin and said: "Don't move."

Taylor then put the knife against Mr Francis' rib cage and indicated to his young lady assistant, Fiona Bird, not to move.

Mr Francis pushed the knife away and threw a clock at the robber. But Taylor regained control, jumped over the counter and brandished the knife at Mr Francis "who fell to the ground fearing the worst".

Miss Bird intervened and Taylor turned his attentions to her. He grabbed her jacket and said: "You hit the button, you bitch."

Miss Bird broke free and ran from the shop and Taylor fled empty handed. Members of the public chased Taylor but he managed to escape and got into a car, which drove off and later rammed a vehicle being driven by a 70-year-old man.

Taylor was arrested nine days later after a police officer recognised him on CCTV footage.

Mr Jackson said the incident had a profound effect on Mr Francis who, since the incident, had felt very vulnerable working in the shop. He also suffered flashbacks and waking up at night.

It had also been a life-changing incident for Miss Bird. Since Mr Francis decided to retire she had lost her job. She was also under the care of her GP.

Simon Spence, mitigating, said Taylor committed the offence against a background of drug abuse and heavy drinking. "He has very little recollection of what he did that day," said Mr Spence.

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