Prolific criminal 'jailed indefinitely'

AN ARMED robber who pointed a shotgun at a postmaster's head during a terrifying raid has been jailed indefinitely.James Turner, 42, from Ipswich, who has more than 100 previous convictions for burglaries, thefts and robberies, was told he must serve a minimum of four years and 316 days in prison for attempting to rob a post office in Norwich.

AN ARMED robber who pointed a shotgun at a postmaster's head during a terrifying raid has been jailed indefinitely.

James Turner, 42, from Ipswich, who has more than 100 previous convictions for burglaries, thefts and robberies, was told he must serve a minimum of four years and 316 days in prison for attempting to rob a post office in Norwich.

The heroic postmaster, who grabbed the gun before grappling with Turner on the floor, was commended for his bravery in the incident and awarded £500 from public funds.

Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday how Turner, of Perkins Way, Ipswich, entered the post office in Plumstead Road, Thorpe End, at 3.30pm on April 14 this year, wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun.

Turner pointed the gun at the head of postmaster Giovanni Bisoffi, who was working in the shop with his wife, Susan, and demanded cash, said Andrew Shaw, prosecuting.

Mr Bisoffi refused to hand over any money and managed to get round the counter and grab the shotgun, grappling with Turner on the floor until the robber fled and jumped into a waiting getaway car.

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Turner was traced by DNA from clothing he abandoned nearby and admitted attempting to rob the post office at an earlier hearing.

He appeared for sentence yesterday and Mr Justice Evans told Turner: "I have no doubt that you present a serious risk of serious harm to the public and for the public protection you will stay in prison indefinitely until the parole board considers you are no longer a risk."

Mr Shaw said the shotgun had not been loaded, but Mr Bisoffi was not to know that. The 62-year-old postmaster suffered minor bruising and a bloody nose in the incident.

The raid had a continuing effect on Mr and Mrs Bisoffi and "they are afraid when anyone new comes into the shop," he added.

The getaway car, a silver Ford Focus, was stolen from a shopping precinct in Ipswich on March 30.

Its number plates had been changed and a "robber's kit" - woolly hat, dark glasses, crowbar and plastic ties for tying up victims - was found in the boot of the abandoned vehicle.

Residents of Manby Road in the city saw the car parked blocking a driveway and two men putting their clothes in rubbish bins.

The shotgun was one of three stolen in a burglary at a farm in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, in 1993, and had been buried in woodland.

The court was told Turner has made 32 court appearances for 126 offences, including burglary, theft and obtaining property by deception.

He was convicted of two attempted robberies in Essex where he threatened staff with acid spray - which was also found to be empty - but left without any money.

He was on licence for the two-year jail sentence he was given for those offences when he tried to rob the post office in Norwich.

William Maley, for Turner, said his client had been desperate to get money to pay off an urgent drugs debt.

"Turner is more of a danger to himself than to the public. He has come to a turning point in his life when he wants to change," he said.

Mr Justice Evans commended the postmaster for his actions and awarded him £500. "There should be public recognition of Mr Bisoffi's amazing bravery," he said.

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