Homeless robber jailed - Leighton Buzzard

03/09/2013

A homeless teenager who robbed a Co-op store in Leighton Buzzard was sentenced to three years custody today, Tuesday, 03 September 2013.

Jay Ballard, 18, cut holes in a green hat to create a home-made balaclava to cover his face when he went into the shop in Clarence Road.

He produced a one inch-wide knife, which he waved in the face of an assistant, saying: "Give us everything out of the till," Luton Crown Court heard.

The assistant said he did not have a key, but a colleague opened the till. Ballard took £260 in £20, £10 and £5 notes. He asked if there was anything else and also put pound coins in his pockets.

Kevin West, prosecuting, said Ballard was recognised by a member of the public after he removed his balaclava as he escaped.

Ballard, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to robbing the Co-op at five past seven in the evening on 25 March this year. He had 15 previous convictions for 27 offences including arson, robbery, actual bodily harm, and burglary.

Furrukh Usmani, defending, said Ballard was homeless at the time and had taken drugs and drink. He said he kept only £20 from the robbery, using the rest to pay off debts. He said he was desperate to find accommodation at the time. Ballard had a difficult childhood, he said, and suffered severe ADHD and dyslexia. "He was exceptionally vulnerable," he said.

Sentencing him, Judge Richard Foster told him: "You are an experienced criminal. It was a petrifying and terrifying crime."

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