Junkie robber with syringe terrified shop staff in Wrexham

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Court Reporter

A man who robbed a store by brandishing a blood-filled syringe at staff has been jailed.

Drug addict Mervyn Graham Hardy was told by a crown court judge that it was a planned robbery with “a sick weapon”.

Hardy went to the Maplin’s electrical store at Island Green in Wrexham and took a £599 CCTV system.

When staff intervened, he produced a syringe, said to be filled with blood and water, and brandished it at staff.

Mold Crown Court heard how they recoiled in horror and let him go.

But after a local press appeal, Hardy handed himself in to the police.

Yesterday he was jailed for four years and three months after he admitted robbery on April 30 and possessing the syringe as an offensive weapon.

Judge Niclas Parry told him: “There can only be one reason why someone would fill a syringe with blood and water before taking it out into a public place – because it was to be used as a weapon if anyone dared to try and stop what you intended to do, to steal.

“You entered a public store and there you threatened two public servants with a sick weapon.”

The judge said it was clear that their immediate reaction was one of fear, of what would happen to them if they were stabbed “with poisoned blood”, because they would think the worse.

The robbery was clearly planned because he had the weapon with him.

It was aggravated by his previous record. He had led a criminal life-style committing serious crime, said Judge Parry.

He had received three lengthy sentences in the last six or seven years for serious violence and he had four separate convictions for possessing weapons in public. But he had no convictions for robbery before.

His only real mitigation was that he had the good sense to change his pleas to guilty and admit what he had done.

Mercifully there had been no physical injury and the incident was extremely short.

Hardy, 36, of Chapel Street in Wrexham, entered the store and immediately approached the CCTV system display near the door.

Staff, who had seen him hanging around outside earlier, asked if he wanted help and he twice said he was just looking.

But he then grabbed hold of a CCTV system. A staff member took hold of it but it was then that Hardy produced the syringe, explained prosecuting barrister Owen Edwards.

He used his teeth to remove the plastic safety cap from the syringe and brandished it towards the terrified staff member who immediately recoiled and let go of the CCTV unit.

Hardy then just walked out.

The company had an “excellent CCTV system” and footage of the robbery was played to the court.

CCTV operators in Wrexham saw the defendant walking along the street and the syringe was still visible at that stage.

Police identified him, the case was featured in the local press and, no doubt as a result of that, the defendant gave himself up on May 2, said Mr Edwards.

He initially pleaded not guilty and a trial was due in October – but he changed his pleas last week.

One of the victims said it had a significant impact on his life. He had worked in London and had never experienced anything like it.

He suffered sleepless nights because of it.

Nicholas Cockrell, defending, said his client had been out of custody for two years and had done his best to put his past behind him.

He appreciated that they were serious offences that would attract immediate custody.

His problems with drugs had played a large part in the commission of the offence.

“His recollection of the incident is not very clear at all,” said Mr Cockrell.

It was a short incident but it was appreciated that it would have a lasting effect on his victims.

There had been a breakdown in his relationship with his family which he was hoping to repair on his eventual release.

The defendant appeared in court via a live television link from Altcourse Prison in Liverpool.

Email:

it@nwn.co.uk

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