A THIEF who struck three times at the same Coventry newsagents threatened the shopkeeper with a carving fork in a bid to get him to open the till.
But Scott Sutton fled empty-handed when the defiant newsagent picked up a broom and swung it at him, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Sutton (34) of Hornsey Close, Wood End, Coventry, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, two charges of theft and possessing a bladed article.
Prosecutor Peter Grice said that in July last year Sutton went into the Mace newsagents in Riley Square, Bell Green, Coventry, and stole two bottles of wine.
He was approached outside by the shopkeeper who asked for them back – but Sutton pulled a large knife from a bag and pointed it at him in an aggressive manner before walking off.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano interjected: “Why was he charged with possession [of the knife] rather than threatening with a weapon? This is highly unsatisfactory.”
Mr Grice said that when Sutton was later arrested and interviewed, he said he was intoxicated at the time, and admitted stealing the wine and ‘showing’ the shopkeeper the knife.
Sutton was released under police investigation, and on November 7 he returned to the Mace shop, selected a bottle of Raspberry Sourz and left without paying, despite being challenged by the cashier.
Later the same day Sutton went into the newsagents again, this time brandishing a carving fork as he demanded that the till be opened.
But the shopkeeper refused, called 999 and picked up a broom and swung it at him, at which Sutton left empty-handed.
When he was arrested he said he had been smoking cocaine that day, and admitted stealing the alcohol, but denied attempting to rob the shopkeeper.
Mr Grice added that Sutton had previous convictions for a total of 32 offences, including 11 ‘thefts and kindred offences,’ having a bladed article, and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence when he went into a take-away and demanded a free pizza.
Sophie Murray, defending, said Sutton suffers from schizophrenia and had been on medication for some years, but had stopped taking it ‘and the voices became worse, and the alcohol and drugs have exacerbated that.’
But she added that since he has stopped using drugs and alcohol since being remanded in custody, his mind ‘has become a lot clearer.’
Jailing Sutton, Judge de Bertodano told him: “These were clearly terrifying offences from the point of view of the staff who were in the shop, going about their business.
“You are suffering from a mental illness. When you stop taking the medication things begin to spiral out of control – and when you combine that with drink and drugs, things get very messy indeed.”