Youth custody for shop raider

A masked teenager armed with a meat cleaver robbed an Exmouth corner shop so he could get money to buy parts for his bicycle.

A masked teenager armed with a meat cleaver robbed an Exmouth corner shop so he could get money to buy parts for his bicycle.

Exeter Crown Court heard 18-year-old Jamie Stuart was wearing a black hoodie and a neck warmer pulled up over his face, so that only his eyes were showing when he went into Hulham Road stores.

Prosecutor Chris Bennett said Stuart approached the young assistant at the counter, pulled out the meat cleaver and a Tesco plastic carrier and told his victim to fill the bag with cash. As the assistant started to put �20 and �10 notes into the bag, Stuart leaned over and helped himself to �5 notes and coins. He then demanded cigarettes and tobacco which were also handed over before he left. The raider then left the shop and ran up Hulham Road with about �150 in the bag.

The whole incident was captured on closed circuit surveillance cameras in the store but the assistant, who raised the alarm with the owner after Stuart had left, was so shocked by what had happened to him that he had difficulty in speaking straight away.

Mr Bennett said it was only after police told him the raider had been apprehended that he felt better.

When the police were alerted, an officer who knew the area went through a short cut to Withycombe Village Road and caught up with the defendant.

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By then, Stuart had jumped over a wall and landed in a brook on the other side.

In interview he made full admissions.

Stuart was also to say that he did not have any money at the time and needed some new parts for his BMX bike.

He said he had taken the meat cleaver from a friend's house, without his knowledge.

The court heard Stuart told police that, as he left the store, he wished he had never become involved in the robbery.

He had been unable to look the counter assistant in the face and had covered his own face to avoid being recognised.

Mitigating, Rupert Taylor said this was not a case involving drink or drugs, but a young man who simply needed some spare parts for his bike.

"It is as depressing as that," said Mr Taylor.

"He is not wicked, just incredibly stupid."

He suggested that a non-custodial sentence might lead to Stuart getting some help with his problems.

But Judge Graham Cottle said: "I would not be doing your client any favours because the prosecution would appeal to the Attorney General to have the matter put right. A non-custodial sentence would be held up to ridicule and rightly so.

"You cannot go into a corner shop, armed with a meat cleaver and wearing a hoodie disguise, and walk away with a non-custodial sentence."

Stuart, of Palm Close, Exmouth, pleaded guilty to robbery and was sent to youth custody for 30 months.

He was told by the judge: "I take into account your age and the fact that you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

"But you agreed to carry out this robbery and armed yourself with the meat cleaver, which you brandished in the store.

"It is simply unrealistic to deal with you in any way other than by an immediate custodial sentence to mark the seriousness of what you did.