Jonathan Robshaw and Lee Bland carried out a spree of robberies earlier this year
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A knife-wielding robber told a shop worker "sod the pleasantries' after being chased out of a B&M store by a staff member brandishing a sweeping brush.
Jonathan Robshaw, 44, had already attempted to rob two other stores on April 20 this year, with Lee Bland, 46, when he set his sights on the Premier shop on Lumley Street in Castleford.
Robshaw had also robbed another shop on his own the day before, and one on the morning of April 20. Prosecutor Helen Chapman told Leeds Crown Court that his first target was a Tesco Express in Churchbalk Lane in Pontefract.
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She said: "At around 10.25pm a man was behind the till serving a customer and saw Robshaw enter. He had a blue Covid mask on. When the customer left he went to the till and pulled a large kitchen knife out of a carrier bag and pointed it at him under a security shield between them. He demanded money and threatened to go behind the till. He gave him cash of £50. He [the shop worker] was worried because another staff member was at the back of the shop and couldn't hear but could come and be hurt."
Robshaw, of Camelot Court, Viking Road in Pontefract, then demanded more money or cigarettes and left when he was handed six packs of cigarettes.
At 7.10am at a Sainsbury's Local in Smawthorne Lane, Castleford, staff member noticed Robshaw walking in. The shop was otherwise empty. Ms Chapman said: "e went to the till and was holding a large knife in his right hand and he shouted 'open the till' and pointed it at her and was waving the knife. He pointed it around the plastic security screen and she tried to get the till open.
"He kept shouting at her to open it and she said she couldn't and pressed a button for help and a customer entered and called the police. He [Robshaw] went through a gap in the screen to try and open the till and threw items at her and demanded she scan them to get the till open."
A store manager attended and managed to calm Robshaw down and opened the till and handed over £200. In a statement, one of the women said she now has trouble sleeping and it was the second robbery she had experienced while working in a period of 18 months.
For his third offence, Robshaw enlisted the help of Bland, of Denby Crest in Pontefract. The pair went to a Coral bookmakers on Carlton Street in Castleford at around 6.28pm. Bland held the door open for the lone staff member who was outside when they arrived, before Robshaw attempted to rob her.
Ms Chapman said: "He approached her and produced a knife and pointed it at her and said 'give me your money' and asked how much was in the till. She picked up a chair and asked what he would do with the knife and he tried to climb over the till but wasn't able to do so and went back and shouted 'b******.' She saw them make their way towards Station Road."
It was at a B&M nearby where heroic staff members were able to chase the pair away.
Ms Chapman said they approached and Robshaw entered the shop while Bland stood outside. Robshaw got some items for a cashier to put through and while she was doing so, pulled out a knife, pointed it at her and demanded the till be opened. The prosecutor said: "She tried to press a panic alarm and the manager went to help and pushed her out of the way until she went to hide in a cleaning cupboard.
"He made some demands and she said she didn't have a key. He was waving the knife around in front of another customer and demanded money. She ran to another till and asked someone to call 999. Another staff member came up with a sweeping brush and he ran away."
Shortly after 7.45pm, Robshaw and Bland targeted a Premier store in Lumley Street. Bland again waited outside the shop, which Ms Chapman said was to act as a "look out" or to prevent customers from entering.
She said Robshaw said to a staff member: "Sod the pleasantries, give me all the money out of the till."
He has a knife and the woman attempted to press a security alarm, which did not work, and also tried to alert a neighbouring property, to no avail. Ms Chapman said: "She opened the till and gave it to him. It was not a lot but was enough for him to leave."
The pair were arrested on April 23 and interviewed, but both answered "no comment" to questions. Their guilty pleas - Robshaw to three counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery, and Bland to robbery and two attempted robberies - were entered at a plea, trial and preparation hearing.
Ms Chapman told the court Bland was already heavily convicted before the robbery offences and had previous for crime including dangerous driving and driving while disqualified. She said Robshaw had previous convictions for offences including battery and grievous bodily harm and theft from a dwelling.
Richard Canning, mitigating for Bland, said he had reduced his methadone intake to 4ml from 25ml and had a job on a wing while in custody. He said: "He's doing very well. His parents are very elderly and are in ill health and he is terrified one or both will not see the end of his sentence."
Gareth Henderson-Moore, mitigating for Robshaw said: "You will know from the pre-sentence report that he has a history of drug misuse and that has been a battle of his demons for a great many years. He was diagnosed in 2020 with a brain tumour and that has caused him to approach drugs again. He had been using heroin and crack cocaine which resulted in those offences when he got himself into financial difficulty. You will have no doubt that he has displayed appropriate empathy and remorse and he has time to think on his actions and regret what he did.
"He is now free from drugs. He was in the grip of class A drugs when he committed his crimes and he remains crime free. He has previous convictions but you will know there was a gap between 2013 and 2022. That was a period when he abstained from drug misuse."
Recorder Mark McKone KC jailed Robshaw for six years and Bland for three years and nine months. He described the robberies as "commercial" and said: "Normally drug addicts will commit a shop robbery on a spur of the moment. This clearly was not a spur of the moment given a large number of offences took place and two defendants were acting together for three of the offences."
Robshaw will have to serve two thirds of his sentence in custody before being released on licence, and Bland will have to serve up to half of his sentence before being released on licence.
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