Raider jailed for shop knife terror

Jailed - robber Brett Matthews
Jailed - robber Brett Matthews

A DRUG addict who carried out two terrifying raids armed with a knife on shops in Wigan has been caged for five years and four months.

Brett Matthews, above right, received the lengthy sentence although all he got from the offences was a £10 note.

The 36-year-old had struck at the premises within minutes of each other and was quickly caught as both the incidents happened in Ormskirk Road, Newtown.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had left the first shop, A-Z Mini-Market empty-handed after the assistant bravely struggled with him and only got £10 from the second shop.

Jailing him, Judge David Swift said that such convenience stores were open long hours and on each occasion only one worker was present. Such premises provided a valuable service to the local community and deserved the protection of the courts.

Matthews, of Laithwaite Road, Worsley Hall, had pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted robbery.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said that Matthews went into the mini market shortly after 7am on December 16 and after buying a drink he left. But he then came back and while assistant Pragnesh Patel was sorting out newspapers he tried to prise open the till with a knife.

Mr Patel bravely grabbed at the knife and struggled with the would-be robber and various items were smashed as they wrestled. Matthews, who was wearing a hooded jacket, ran off and went into the nearby A-M newsagents shop.

As he arrived a customer was paying his paper bill with a £10 note and Matthews tried to grab it but it fell on the floor behind the counter. He began demanding the note but the newsagent, Ian Wilkinson, refused, saying it was not his money.

Matthews, who still had the knife, patted his pocket where the weapon was and the shopkeeper reluctantly eventually handed over the note. Matthews made off but police, who had been given his description, spotted him nearby and he was arrested, said Mr Pepper.

When interviewed he said he had woken up and realised he did not have any money as he had spent his dole money on heroin and was suffering withdrawal symptoms.

The court heard that Matthews has three previous convictions for robbery but William Swalwell, defending, successfully urged the judge not to impose an indeterminate sentence for public protection.

He said that Matthews’s life has been blighted by drugs. He had formed a relationship and managed to kick the habit but after it broke up he went back to drugs. He carried out the raids as he needed money for food.

Mr Swalwell said that while in custody on remand Matthews hadcompleted some courses and was now drug-free and hoping to turn his life around.