A HEROIN addict who held up a Sheffield convenience store with a plastic water pistol because “the Devil” told him to has been jailed for three years.
Richard Ian Wilkinson, aged 37, had been drinking and was craving drugs when he burst into The Local on Wolstenholme Road, Sharrow, brandishing the gun wrapped in a carrier bag and demanding cash.
But quick-thinking manager Peter Huxley realised Wilkinson’s gun was a fake and disarmed him and then wrestled him to the floor as a terrified customer cowered behind some shelves.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch CCTV footage of the raid and our interview with have-a-go-hero Peter Huxley.
Sarah Wright, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court Wilkinson was wearing a scarf over his face when he approached the counter on January 19, pointed the plastic gun at Mr Huxley’s torso and demanded cash.
Miss Wright said: “It’s a sad fact Mr Huxley was the previous victim of a gunpoint robbery in his shop, he knew what he was looking for and he immediately thought it was a toy gun.
“He may have thought that, but a lady doing her shopping heard the defendant saying ‘this is an armed robbery’.
“She was terrified and hid behind a display on one of the aisles.”
Miss Wright said as Wilkinson approached the counter Mr Huxley grabbed his bag, snapped the gun in half, threw it to the ground and wrestled Wilkinson to the floor.
She added: “He held him for some seconds before getting up, letting him go and telling him ‘don’t be so stupid - get out’.
The police were called and they seized CCTV footage of the attempted robbery.
Wilkinson was arrested after one of the officers recognised him from the film.
In interview, Wilkinson told the police he was craving crack cocaine and heroin, adding: “The Devil has been putting something into my mind - ‘you need drugs, you need alcohol, go and do this’.”
Miss Wright said Wilkinson, of Kenilworth Court, Parkhead, Sheffield, told police he was ‘disgusted and ashamed’ about his offending and had apologised to his parents, Mr Huxley and the customer.
“He said he was very sorry and had been having ‘bad thoughts’ and needed help,” she added.
Wilkinson admitted attempted robbery, having an imitation firearm, pinching two televisions from his parents worth £650 and stealing nearly £2,500 from his mother’s bank account.
Jailing him Judge Robert Moore said: “For well over 15 years your personal relationships have been destroyed by your uncontrollable addictions sometimes to more than one thing at a time.
“Your current addiction is heroin, for which you are being treated. You know that these offences are so serious only immediate custody can be justified.
“My job is to construct a sentence that allows you to get cured, come out in a decent state and realise that if you commit further offences you will go to prison for far longer.”