Drink at the root of the problems behind garage raid
THE Cheltenham man who raided a petrol station for a pasty and two bottles of wine threatened to come back and shoot the staff member who tried to detain him, a judge heard.
Leigh Heasman, 29, of no fixed abode, was jailed for nine months at Gloucester Crown Court.
Heasman pleaded guilty to robbing Sanjay Mahendrarajah on New Year’s Day.
Prosecutor Janine Wood told the judge, Recorder Paul Grumbar, Heasman arrived at the Esso garage on Bristol Road, Gloucester, at 10.50pm.
Mr Mahendrarajah was the lone staff member and noted Heasman spending about five minutes looking at the wine section, Mrs Wood explained.
Heasman picked up two bottles of wine and attempted to leave, but Mr Mahendrarajah ‘challenged him and locked the door’ the prosecutor told the judge.
Mrs Wood said: “The defendant made threats to come back and shoot him if he did not open the door and let him leave, but Mr Mahendrarajah refused until he replaced the wine.”
Heasman assaulted Mr Mahendrarajah with ‘some kicking’ and in the ensuing struggle, Mr Mahendrarajah fell back into fridges with various items knocked over.
“The defendant then smashed the bottles of wine and Mr Mahendrarajah opened the door,” Mrs Wood said.
Heasman propped open the door, picked up two further bottles of wine and left, the prosecutor said.
Police officers were able to identify Heasman from CCTV footage and he was arrested on January 19.
The court heard that in his police interview he said “I suffer with anxiety, I panicked.”
Heasman caused £90 worth of damage and Mr Mahendrarajah’s mobile phone was broken.
In a victim statement he said: “I was extremely frightened by the violent behaviour. I should not have to put up with this. I am just trying to make a living.
“Customers are normally friendly. I am worried he will return and carry out the threats he made that night.”
The court heard Heasman had a record of 16 previous convictions for 36 offences.
Recorder Grumbar said: “There is a problem here. This man is not reducing his offending, getting worse, drinking.
“A man working on his own at a service station, he is vulnerable at night. It’s quite a serious position.”
Lyall Thompson, defending, said the theft was motivated by drink.
He said: “He needs to grow out of this. It started out as a simple shoplifting.
“He went in to steal bottles of wine and a pasty.
“The shopkeeper reacted in the way he did and he reacted badly to being enclosed and did not wait for the police to come.
“He wasn’t drunk, but wanted to be drunk. It was his alcoholism that prompted him to get some food and wine. He reacted badly to the shopkeeper closing him in.”
The judge heard this was not supported by probation who felt they ‘could not manage the risks he posed to the public in the community.’
The judge said: “His difficulties are getting worse. The level of danger to the public is getting worse. “This case is what one would expect given that diagnosis, in order to get some drink.”
Imposing the nine month jail term, Recorder Grumbar told Heasman: “You persistently get drunk.
“You are persistently violent to get drink, and carry on committing offences.
“You have been in trouble twice since this happened. Probation say you fail to respond.”
He continued: “This offence caused the victim considerable anxiety and worry.
“He was frightened by your appalling behaviour.
“You need to stop drinking and keep out of trouble.
“Reluctantly I am going to pass a prison sentence on you.
“The least sentence I can pass is nine months imprisonment.
“Hopefully you will have time to reflect and not reoffend on your release.
There is a problem here. This man is not reducing his offending, getting worse, drinking Recorder Paul Grumbar