Co-op manager jailed for robbery at store - Hertfordshire

30/11/2012

The manager of a Co-op store staged a robbery at the shop after running up massive gambling debts.

Modestos GEORGIOU, who was the manager of the branch in Stanstead Road, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, crept into the back of the store on a Sunday night when he knew a colleague would be cashing up.

Georgiou, who had run up debts of £50,000, because of an addiction to playing fruit machines, had his face hidden under a hoodie and behind dark glasses.

As 22-year-old Justin Taylor was cashing up in an office in the staff area at the back of the shop, Georgiou burst in, brandishing a knife.

Holding the tip of the large kitchen knife under the chin of a terrified Mr Taylor, Georgiou forced his young colleague to open the supervisor's safe.

Today, Friday, 30 November 2012, at St Albans Crown Court, Georgiou, 45, of Lansbury Road, Enfield, pleaded guilty to robbery, possessing a bladed article, and theft on the evening of Sunday, 29 July this year.

Beverley Cripps, for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said that after creeping into the store, Georgiou hid for a while until he knew Mr Taylor would be in the office cashing up.

The court was told that the blade of the knife was held under Mr Taylor's chin as he was forced to open a safe and hand over £3,000.

Miss Cripps said that in the days leading up to the robbery, Georgiou had taken another £3,000 from the safe.

After being handed the money, he ordered Mr Taylor to kneel down before making off.

Miss Cripps said that during the robbery, he had disguised his voice by speaking with an accent.

Mr Taylor hadn't recognised his boss but, as Georgiou made out of the front of the store, he bumped into a woman member of staff who did recognise him. The following day, he was arrested, but made no comment.

Police enquiries continued and, through CCTV and ANPR, Georgiou's vehicle was placed in the vicinity of the store at the time of the robbery. After being arrested again and confronted with the evidence, he made a full confession.

Miss Cripps said the impact on Mr Taylor had been significant.

"He said it was the single most horrific experience in his life.  He had never been in a position where he felt so much fear" said the prosecutor.

Since the incident, she said he had difficulty sleeping and had been prescribed sleeping tablets by his doctor.

"He thinks it will take a very long time to recover."

The court was told that, following the break-up of his marriage some years ago, Georgiou had developed a gambling addition involving fruit machines.

Stephen Halloran, defending, said it was after running up debts of £50,000 that Georgiou had committed the offences.

The court was told that, following the robbery and before his arrest on 20 September this year, Georgiou had spent all the money.

Judge Marie Catterson jailed him for a total of 40 months.

Passing sentence, she said:  "The fact remains that someone who was a young colleague of yours and who you must have known was vulnerable, was a person you chose to subject to this robbery."

She said it was a gross betrayal of trust.

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