A man has been jailed for four years after he was convicted of robbery at two North East Wales convenience stores.
Cain McLaren, 26, denied being one of two men who carried out the raids and represented himself at Mold Crown Court.
He was allowed to sit in the well of the court with his papers rather than in the dock and he claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, but the jury returned with two unanimous guilty verdicts.
The judge, Mr Recorder Duncan Bould, offered to adjourn for McLaren to speak to a probation officer before being sentenced.
He also offered to give McLaren time to be legally represented pending sentence.
But McLaren said he would continue to represent himself, did not wish to speak to a probation officer for a pre-sentence report, and said he wanted it “over and done with”.
McLaren, who had been on bail, said he did not wish to say anything in mitigation and the Recorder gave him three years on the first robbery and four years concurrent on the second – making a total of four years.
It was far too serious a case to be dealt with in any other way, he said.
Barrister Paulinus Barnes, prosecuting, said he had been caught in part thanks to modern technology.
In January of last year there were two robberies on consecutive days involving two masked men and in one case one of the raiders brandished a knife.
In the second robbery, one of the men held a black bin liner with something inside that the shopkeeper thought was a weapon.
The first, on December 23, took place at K&A’s Store in Henllan Street, Denbigh.
Owner Athar Ali Khan was working alone when a man a hood on and a balaclava over his mouth and face entered brandishing a knife in his right hand shouting “Give me the money.”
The victim hid in the back of the shop and saw the robber go behind the counter and then leave.
His mobile phone and laptop computer had been stolen from the counter and cigarettes had been stolen from a cupboard behind the counter.
CCTV footage showed two men, both with their faces covered, outside his shop.
Mr Barnes said it also showed the man coming into the shop, waving the knife about, and then taking the laptop, the mobile phone and the cigarettes.
When he emerged from the shop he then ran off with the other male who had waited outside – who appeared to be carrying a bag.
The second robbery was the following day at the Boot End Convenience Store and Post Office in Bagillt.
Owner Mathivathanan Sivanathan was working on his own that evening and had just finished mopping the floor when the door opened and two men rushed in. Their faces were almost entirely covered and they were shouting at him to “open the till”.
The male who was closest to him was carrying a black bin liner that seemed to be wrapped around something – Mr Sivanathan thought immediately that it was a weapon of some kind.
He opened the till as they demanded and the men were shouting at him “Give me the money, give me the money”.
The male with the black bin bag reached across the counter and grabbed notes from the till.
Both men then turned and ran out.
Police found a black bin bag abandoned in the middle of the road which contained a broken broom handle with a screw in one end.
The prosecutor said it was not possible to identify the culprits from the CCTV alone but he told the jury the case was “a story of modern technology”.
He said the mobile phone stolen in Denbigh was a Huawei phone was used by a SIM bought by McLaren.
A top up had been bought at the Shell garage in Holywell a couple of hours after the robbery.
A similar vehicle to the defendant’s Asrtra had been seen near the robberies and McLaren had used his mobile phone to search the internet for “londis bagillt robber” and “londis bagillt robbery” together with adhesive stick on number plates.
McLaren, of Wellington Road in Rhyl, said he had a strong Birmingham accent while the victims had spoken of local accents, he was taller than the descriptions given, the car seen was not his and he had searched the internet about the robberies when he was told the police wanted to speak to him about them.
DC Kelly Taylor-Jones, of North Wales Police, said after the hearing: “I am grateful to the shop staff for their help in bringing this case to court.
“Being a victim of such a crime is a very traumatic experience and thankfully McLaren is now behind bars where he belongs.
“North Wales Police will not tolerate such criminal activity and will always pursue those responsible for harming our communities.”