Teen machete raiders who sniggered at victim are jailed

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.
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Two masked teen machete raiders who terrorised Burnley shop workers – and sniggered as a victim’s agony was outlined in court – have been locked up for four years.

Ashan Ali (19) and his 17-year-old accomplice appeared to be amused when CCTV footage of the petrified woman, a 53-year-old grandmother who was being “held hostage” and pinned against a wall with a door, was played. Sheila Whitehead was threatened with a 12 inch blade by the younger defendant as he demanded cash after forcing his way into the betting shop where she worked, Burnley Crown Court heard.

I feel I have not only been robbed of cash, but also my self confidence and my personality


Judge Jonathan Gibson stopped the proceedings as her victim impact statement was read out and asked the duo: “Do you two find this funny? You are talking in the dock. You are smirking. It’s not funny.”

The hearing had been told how Corals in Hammerton Street and off-licence Top Shop in Barden Lane were targeted within an hour of each other on June 2nd. Not long after Mrs Whitehead’s colleague was forced to hand over £300 as the armed 17-year-old kept her prisoner, 21-year-old Kamran Mehmood had a machete brandished at him as a gang, disguised in balaclavas, took £569 from the till at the off-licence. A 14-year-old youth who snatched the cash has already been dealt with by the youth court. The court was told after the incident, Mrs Whitehead suffered recurring nightmares in which she was stabbed. She told police: “I feel I have not only been robbed of cash, but also my self confidence and my personality.”

Ali, of Abel Street, Burnley, had admitted robbery and possessing an offensive weapon. The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and two of possessing an offensive weapon.

Prosecutor Judith McCullough said the 17-year-old went into Coral at about 8-30pm. He was wearing a hooded top, some sort of mask or balaclava and was armed with a machete.

Mrs Whitehead was near the front door and the defendant forced it open, pinning her between the door and the wall. Miss McCullough continued: “She says at that point, her legs turned to jelly.” The robber pointed the knife at both the victim and her male colleague, demanded the money, grabbed it and ran out.

Miss McCullouch said at about 9-30pm, Mr Mehmood was behind the counter at Top Shop when three men stood in front of him and a knife was pointed towards him. The person holding the machete was Ali. He was waving the knife around and shouting: “Open the till and give me all the money.” The victim did as he was told and the 14-year-old went round the back of the counter and removed the money.

Miss McCullough said: “The first male banged on the counter with the knife and said “ Don’t ring anyone or tell the police or I will kill you.” She told the court Mrs Whitehead had to have six weeks off work due to anxiety after the robbery and had been unable to sleep.

Bob Sastry (defending Ali) said: “I acknowledge on behalf of my client this is a very serious offence with a number of aggravating features.” Defending the 17-year-old, Tahir Hanif said what the teenager had done had come as an” absolute shock” to his father. The father would say he noticed some change in his son, as did the 17-year-old’s mother, when he joined a gym.

Sentencing, Judge Gibson told the defendants: “I quite accept your actions have led to a great deal of shock within your respective families and a great deal of family difficulty as a result.” He added: “There doesn’t really appear on the part of either of you to be any remorse.”