Axe robber left fingerprints on lemonade bottle

Jailed - Anthony Holland
Jailed - Anthony Holland
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AN axeman carefully hid his identity with a balaclava while carrying out a terrifying Wigan shop robbery, a court heard.

But during the raid at Tesco Express in Poolstock Lane, Worsley Mesnes, Anthony Holland used a lemonade bottle – leaving his fingerprints behind.

His blunder landed him a four-year, eight-month jail sentence yesterday from Judge Gerald Clifton, who said it had been a pre-planned robbery involving him carrying an axe and his unknown companion armed with a hammer.

“You went in wearing a balaclava shouting and frightening people. The cashiers were threatened and were terrified,” he said.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that shortly before 5pm on Sunday, July 3, Holland and an accomplice, both masked, went into the store with empty bags.

The other man shouted for manager Robert Harrison and assistant Gillian Hardman to go to the back of the store and open the safe.

Mr Pepper said: “Gillian Hardman went to the rear of the store and tried to run to the stockroom, but the man grabbed hold of her pony tail and pulled her to the floor and grabbed her back up and said, ‘if you do that again I’ll do you’.”

She suffered a torn ligament in her shoulder.

The manager said he would open the safe as he did not want her further hurt and went into the office, but then told the raider that he could not open it as it had a time lock.

The man demanded his mobile phone and wallet but the manager explained all staff wallets were in lockers. He left the couple in the room and they pressed the panic alarm.

Holland, 27, told another cashier to open her till and threatened “to axe her” if she did not do so. She was so nervous she was unable to do so and he swiped a lemonade bottle to open the till but she refused to take the cash out so he emptied it himself, said Mr Pepper.

He then used the same bottle to swipe open the other till and also emptied it. The assistant ran off to the toilet and locked herself in. “She was certain they would use their weapons if required,” he said.

The raiders left with £236 and, when the police arrived, they seized the bottle and analysis revealed Holland’s fingerprints. When his home was searched a few hours later, a hammer and a rucksack containing two balaclavas was found. He surrendered himself to Wigan police station later that day.

Holland, of Kingsley Avenue, Worsley Mesnes, pleaded guilty to robbery. He has previous convictions but has never received a custodial sentence.

David Watson, defending, said Holland had not been the lead participant and there had been no actual violence. He had taken the death of his father three years ago very badly, and earlier this year was in hospital because of a suicide risk.

He had been using cocaine and was spending £1,000 a week on crack cocaine. His daughter is being cared for by his mother and, while in custody on remand, he has been drug free, he said.