Garage robber locked up for four years

A KNIFE- wielding teenage robber who threatened a garage cashier weeks after he was released from custody for a similar raid is today starting a four-year term behind bars.

A KNIFE- wielding teenage robber who threatened a garage cashier weeks after he was released from custody for a similar raid is today starting a four-year term behind bars.

Judge David Goodin told the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, the fact that he got away with only £85 from the Jet garage in North Terrace, Mildenhall, made no difference to the seriousness of his latest crime.

The judge said victim Maria Hayward told police she had been "very frightened" when the youth walked into the garage wearing a skull mask with fang-like teeth and held her at knifepoint on a night in February this year.

"The mask had a terrifying aspect and you threatened your victim with a knife. She said she was very frightened. I accept that from her but I'm surprised she didn't put it more strongly.

"You also committed the offence while on license a couple of months after your release from a two year sentence imposed for a generally similar offence committed with others. You know that the only sentence you can possibly expect is one of custody…for a very substantial period."

Judge Goodin said the teenager, who comes from Mildenhall, had already spent a "great deal" of his life recently behind bars. He said the four-year term would allow him to see "light at the end of the tunnel".

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Prosecutor Rupert Overbury told the court the youth had told friends he was "going to do a garage, I'm desperate" hours before the raid on the petrol station on February 25.

He said Ms Hayward was tidying up when she heard someone enter the shop. She looked up and was confronted by a man wearing a mask who walked towards her. He had a 12ins knife in his hand.

"He came within a few inches of her face, holding the knife at waist height. He told her to give him the money from the till," he added.

The cashier handed over £5 notes and £1 coins.

Mr Overbury said: "She was left in no doubt that he meant to harm her if she didn't hand over the money. When she gave him the carrier bag with the money in he calmly left, walking across the forecourt and turning left along North Terrace."

The court heard the youth was given a two-year custodial term in February last year for his part in a robbery on the Esso service station in Mildenhall in July 2001.

Charles Judge, for the teenager, said his client had begun to realise the impact of his crimes on himself and his family. While in custody his client had started adult literacy classes, communications and English and hoped to join the armed forces despite his convictions.

Mr Judge said the youth was remorseful and had shown a desire to change.

Alister McFarquhar , owner of the garage, said the victim found the whole experience "extremely frightening". However, on the question of whether the custodial term was sufficient he said: "I'm happy to leave sentencing to those that have the experience and knowledge to apply the guidelines correctly."

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