Teen robber facing jail

A 17-YEAR-OLD armed robber who led "a campaign of terror" against small shops in Colchester was told to expect a "substantial" prison sentence by a judge yesterday.

A 17-YEAR-OLD armed robber who led "a campaign of terror" against small shops in Colchester was told to expect a "substantial" prison sentence by a judge yesterday.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stood sobbing in the dock as a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court returned guilty verdicts on two counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted robbery and three counts of possession of weapons.

Judge Ben Pearson said the youth's "terrorising" of small shopkeepers in the New Town area of Colchester in October and November last year appeared to be motivated not out of profit, but more out of some form of "perverted excitement" aimed at impressing his peers.

Delaying sentencing for psychiatric reports to be prepared, he said: "I find that aspect of this case altogether more frightening – you can expect a very substantial custodial sentence for these awful offences."


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The teenager had denied having any involvement in a string of robberies and attempted robberies, but the court had heard how he bragged to police in a 999 call he was the culprit.

The youth had admitted making the phone call in which he said: "You know those robberies have been happening in New Town, yeah, that was me."

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But he claimed he had been "egged on" by friends to get some "street respect".

Disguised behind an "old man" Hallowe'en mask and armed with an imitation police baton and a knife, the youth walked into Winnock Road Post Office in the early morning of October 31.

He demanded money from Vinitha Kumar, who runs the shop with her husband Thiru. But she managed to press an alarm button under the counter that sounded in the flat upstairs awaking her husband. When Mr Kumar appeared, the youth fled.

On November 4, he wielded a silver handgun and demanded money and phone cards from BH Stores in Winnock Road.

And the next day, he threatened staff and a customer with two guns at News Plus, Military Road, and walked away with cash.

Then, on November 11, he returned to BH Stores with a black handgun, but left empty handed after Mr Kumar brandished a hockey stick he kept under the counter.

Speaking at the time of the first attempted robbery at his store, Mr Kumar said: "When he saw me, he was shocked. He was wearing a mask. But I was worried about my wife and was ready to take him on."

Also speaking after the incident Sheela Anbarasan, owner of the News Plus store, said: "I looked up at the CCTV screen and was horrified when I saw a man holding two guns threatening my shop assistant. I was really scared and upset."

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