Teen masked robber avoids jail sentence

PUBLISHED: 10:28 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 31 May 2010

The newsagents where the failed robbery took place

The newsagents where the failed robbery took place

A MASKED gunman who threatened a Saffron Walden newsagents during a failed robbery turned out to be a 15-year-old schoolboy, a court heard on Monday. The child s father later telephoned the newsagent and apologised and said it had been a schoolboy prank

A mask similar to that worn by the 15-year-old

A MASKED gunman who threatened a Saffron Walden newsagents during a failed robbery turned out to be a 15-year-old schoolboy, a court heard on Monday.

The child's father later telephoned the newsagent and apologised and said it had been "a schoolboy prank".

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted a charge of attempted robbery at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub Q.C. said he would take "an exceptional course" and deferred sentence for six months.

He said if the offence had been committed by an adult he would have imposed a sentence of several years. But out of common sense and humanity he was able to take a different view.

Judge Goldstaub said the boy, who had been a cannabis user, had been taking steps to rehabilitate himself with strong support from his family.

"He seems to see the error of his ways and the error in his choice of companions," said Judge Goldstaub.

Sentence was adjourned until July 21 and Judge Goldstaub told the boy that if he kept out of further trouble there would be "a non-custodial disposal."

Rex Bryan, prosecuting, said the incident happened on September 28 last year at Shah's Newsagent's shop in Rowntree Way, Saffron Walden.

Dilip Shah, 57, was behind the counter when the shop door slammed open and he was confronted by a masked man brandishing a gun.

The would-be robber pointed the gun at Mr Shah, who was shocked and frightened and feared he was going to be shot.

The gunman seemed aggressive and determined and shouted several times: "f****** give me the money!"

Although he felt scared, Mr Shah stepped forward and threw a punch at the male, which missed.

The male then fled from the store empty handed.

Mr Bryan said the incident attracted a lot of local publicity and the defendant's father rang up the shopkeeper to apologise. He said it would have been a prank by his son. He told Mr Shah the gun was not real but a water pistol.

When the boy was arrested he told police it was a prank, which had been done for a bet.

Hearing the outcome, a disappointed Mr Shah, said: "He got away with it. They said it was just a prank, but how do I know he won't come back and hit me; you see in the paper that it happens all the time.

"I think the judge let him off very lightly for what he did.

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