Barry man jailed for 'terrifying' town centre knife robberies
7:50am Thursday 8th November 2012 in News
A BARRY man has been jailed for five years for two robberies that ‘terrified’ the victims.
Lee Francis Farrugia, aged 31, robbed the Cash Solutions store on Holton Road on Friday (September 7) and the Post Office the following day.
During both robberies he threatened the victims with a knife and ordered them to hand over ‘everything they had’.
He appeared at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday (November 6) for sentencing, and was given concurrent five-year terms for the robberies, which he admitted at a previous hearing. He was also given 15 months, to run concurrently, for possession of an offensive weapon.
Collette Sian Lewis, aged 20, was sent to a Young Offenders Institute for 18 months, after she admitted acting as a look-out during the robberies. She denied knowing that a knife would be used in the first robbery.
The court heard that the staff member at the Cash Solutions store ‘thought he was going to be stabbed’, while the Post Office shop assistant said she had been ‘terrified’ during the ordeal – and that the money stolen was used to ‘fund the heroin addiction of both of the defendants’.
Tony Trigg, prosecuting, told the court that Farrugia entered the Cash Solutions outlet at about 3pm on September 7, locking the front door with the deadlock and pulling out a knife from his waist belt.
The employee described it as a kitchen-type knife, with a 6in to 8in blade.
“He pulled it dagger-like, and the complainant thought he was going to be stabbed, as he raised the knife towards his face,” said Mr Trigg.
Farrugia, who had a black bag on his shoulder, then told the complainant to ‘put everything in the bag’.
After the employee handed over his wallet, which contained £130, Farrugia said: “I know you have got more, give it to me or I will ****ing use this (the knife).”
The employee described himself as ‘terrified’.
Mr Trigg added: “The defendant then spotted bags of gold under the counter, to the value of £1000, and put them in his own bag.
“He then told the employee to ‘get on your knees and open the ****ing safe’.
“The employee took gold from the safe, worth about £1,000, which the defendant put in his bag.”
Farrugia then took the man’s mobile phone and ordered him not to alert police for at least five minutes.
Mr Trigg said that during the robbery Collette Lewis was ‘in a nearby shop, acting as a lookout.’ Lewis admitted helping to dispose of the knife.
The court heard that the following day Farrugia entered the Post Office shortly before midday, ‘put his carrier bag on the counter and produced a knife’, which the staff member described as ‘a kitchen knife used for peeling vegetables’.
He told her: “Give me the money or I’ll slit your throat.”
She said she ‘looked at him dumbfounded and wanted to scream’, and after she looked at a male colleague, Farrugia told her: “Don’t even think about it or I’ll jump over there.”
The court heard he then put his hand in the till and took between £150 and £200 in notes and coins.
The employee described herself as ‘terrified’ and said she was so frightened she ‘started hyperventilating’.
Kevin Seal, in mitigation for Farrugia, said: “From the time he was arrested by police he said ‘I’m going to admit to both of them’, and that is what he has done.
“He has also written letters to the two victims.”
“He is a young man that is hard working. He lost his job and, unfortunately for him, started taking some illicit drugs.”
Meirion Davies, in mitigation for Lewis, said that she had had a troubled upbringing and ‘adolescence has been a bit of a disaster’.
He said that after moving back to Barry she had ‘fallen into her old ways’ and that ‘both of them had been taking drugs on a substantial basis’.
Sentencing the pair, the Recorder of Cardiff, Her Honour Judge Eleri Rees, said: “The victims of each of the robberies were in their own way terrified by your conduct.”
Speaking after the sentencing, a staff member at the post office said: “It’s fair for what he’s done, and he deserves it.
“Hopefully it will stop him from doing anything more.”
“We were shocked that he had the cheek to do it in the middle of the day. He had no fear at all.”