Drug user jailed after threatening shopkeeper with syringe
A DRUG user who threatened a shopkeeper with a needle has been jailed for three years.
Damian Janes robbed one shop and tried to rob another after taking Valium and cocaine, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
The 32-year-old stole cash and cigarettes at one store only a day after being released from prison.
Janes then threatened a shopkeeper with a hypodermic needle – but was foiled when the man pushed a chewing gum stand at him.
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Judge Jeremy Griggs said Dennis Naci had shown "considerable bravery" in seeing off Janes.
Addressing Janes, he added: "Attempts are usually regarded as less serious than full offences, but not in this case as you were armed with a syringe."
Janes admitted robbing two men of money and cigarettes at the Spar store in West Hoe Road on December 5. He also pleaded guilty to attempting to rob Mr Naci at The Corner Shop in North Hill on December 7.
Janes, formerly of the Salvation Army Hostel in Devonport, denied two charges of common assault in Mutley on December 4 and theft of a knife on December 5.
The Crown Prosecution Service accepted those pleas and the judge ordered them to lie on file.
Prosecutor Julia Cox said Janes had been spotted standing near the West Hoe store at about 9.15pm on December 5. She added he had even told a bystander that his name was George and he was from Yorkshire.
Miss Cox said shop assistants Jack Sumner and Daniel McFarlane became suspicious when he walked around the store and left empty-handed.
She added: "The defendant re-entered the store and demanded money and cigarettes from them.
"He said: 'Give me everything. I want all the cash'."
Miss Cox said as he made the demands he banged a heavy bag down on the counter. She said one of the men believed it contained a brick and the other thought it held a truncheon.
Miss Cox said the men handed over £200 in cash and six packets of cigarettes.
She added two days later Janes confronted Mr Naci in his store.
Miss Cox said he demanded the shopkeeper open the till – and held a hypodermic needle to his face as he leant across the counter.
"He pushed a chewing gum display at him," she added. "It struck him and he ran off down the hill."
The court heard Janes had several previous cautions for assault and was released from a 12-month prison sentence only on December 4.
Ali Rafati, for Janes, said he walked free without any accommodation or support and fell in with drug-users. The court heard he was turned away by friends.
He added Janes, a father-of-three from the Newton Abbot area, ended up taking Valium and cocaine.
Mr Rafati said he had not taken Valium for a while and it "wreaked havoc".
He added: "He did not threaten the complainant with the full syringe, but the end of the syringe with the needle showing."
Mr Rafati urged the judge not to pass a sentence which was so long that it would "crush" Janes.