Shop boss warned off knifeman with brush

JAILED: Robert Waring (s)
JAILED: Robert Waring (s)

The man behind an attempted robbery that left a shop assistant “shaking and tearful” has been jailed.

Robert Waring (22), of no fixed abode, was also sentenced for inflicting grievous bodily harm on a vulnerable friend just four months before the incident at Pratt’s Newsagents, in Padiham Road, Burnley.

On both occasions, Waring, who has been locked up for a total of four years, was on bail.

Burnley Crown Court heard how on the evening of June 11th last year, a group of friends had got together at a flat, and were drinking through to the early hours of the morning.

Two of those present were the defendant, described as a well built man, and Jason Sutton, who is currently in custody, described as of slight build.

Around 3-30am, the defendant was said to have punched Mr Sutton once in the left cheek, knocking him across the room and to the floor. The victim was bleeding from the mouth, and was momentarily unconscious.

Mr Sutton grabbed his jacket and left. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and was diagnosed with a fractured jaw. The victim underwent two operations, on June 12th and on June 27th.

The defendant was arrested on June 14th, where in interview he stated that he was acting in self-defence and that Mr Sutton had “been gobby.”

Four months later, on October 23rd, Waring entered Pratt’s in possession of a knife with an eight-inch blade. The shop was just 200m away from the bail hostel he was staying at the time.

It was being managed by the owner’s 81-year-old father Stephen Pratt, and shop assistant Linda Ronson, who is in her early 60s, was also working.

Having seen Waring, Mrs Ronson moved from where she was stacking cigarettes to behind the counter. The defendant then demanded “give me the money.” She did not initially hear, but when Waring repeated the demand and she noticed a large carving knife in his right hand, she moved to the end of the counter and shouted for Mr Pratt.

The court heard how Mr Pratt courageously told the defendant to leave, picking up a brush from behind the stock room door. The defendant followed the instructions, and Mr Pratt went to watch Waring leave. He noticed the defendant was wearing a tracksuit, and rang the police to give a description.

Mr Mark Lamberty (prosecuting) said Mrs Ronson was “shaking and tearful” after the incident. When police tracked down Waring, he gave a no comment interview.

Mr David Traynor (defending) said that the attempted robbery was not a sophisticated crime, since the defendant had made no attempt to disguise himself other than raising his hood. He was wearing distinctive clothing, and was found shortly afterwards.

He added that Waring had had a “turbulent childhood” since his father had died following an epileptic fit. He was said to have had disputes with his mother, and in his teens was apparently “left to his own devices.”

Mr Traynor said the defendant wants to change his life because one of his friends who he had committed offences with has made improvements to his life, and he now has a daughter, who was born in November. He has never seen her, since he has been in custody.

The defendant, who has been taking part in mentoring courses in prison, is also said to have been trying to “build bridges” with his mother.

Judge Robert Altham, who also ordered the defendant to pay a £120 victim surcharge, said: “The most important change in your life is that you now have a daughter, and anybody who has children knows that can be a transformative experience.”