‘Unconventional’ robber walks free from court

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A TEENAGE knifeman who tried to mug a Nelson cabbie in a dispute over two puppies has walked free from court.

Co-op worker John Gordon had demanded the victim give him all his money, told him he was going to get robbed and pulled out the bread knife from behind his back. The defendant was later arrested after flinging the blade into a church car park, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Gordon was spared detention after a judge said the offence was “not the standard robbery of a taxi driver” and if it had been, he would have been locked up for three to five years.

Judge Beverley Lunt told him: “You believed, rightly or wrongly, that this man had stolen two quite valuable puppies and owed money for one. If ever there was a wrong way to go about it, this was it.” Judge Lunt said Gordon had done a lot of growing up, had not offended since, was in work and his pre-sentence report said there was a very low chance he would commit crime again.

Gordon (19), formerly of Fernbank Court, Nelson, and now living in Scotland, had admitted attempted robbery and possessing a bladed article. He was given 12 months in a Young Offenders’ Institution, suspended for a year, with supervision.

Mr David Bruce (prosecuting) said just after midnight the taxi driver returned home and pulled up in Poplar Street, Nelson. The defendant came out of a house, went up to the victim and asked him: “Can I help you?” The cabbie replied: “No, can I help you?”

Gordon then told him: “Yeah, give me all your money.” The victim told him to calm down, but the defendant told him he was going to be robbed, stepped away and pulled a bread knife out. Gordon hit the taxi wing mirror with the knife and the cabbie drove off.

Mr Bruce said the victim and police went to look for the defendant and he was arrested. When questioned, he said he was drunk and had been collecting a debt owed for a puppy. He claimed he took the knife off a window ledge and struck out at the cab as it pulled away. He denied using the knife to demand money.

Mr James Heyworth, for Gordon, said it appeared he had done a lot of growing up. He was working and wanted to get back into playing rugby.

The barrister, who described the defendant’s actions as “an unconventional robbery,” added: “Many defendants talk about making a fresh start. He has actually done that.”