Machete wielding robber jailed - Bedfordshire

08/06/2016

A machete wielding robber, who brought terror to two small stores and a bookmakers in Bedfordshire, has today, Wednesday, 08 June 2016, been given an extended sentence of 17 years.

Leonard Hunte struck at two Nisa stores on the Marsh Farm estate in Luton and in Houghton Regis. In between those attacks he targeted a Coral bookmakers in Tavistock Street, Luton. On each occasion he and an accomplice made off with just a few hundred pounds.

Luton Crown Court heard today that following the robbery at the Nisa store, Axe Close on the Marsh Farm estate in Luton on 15 October last year, a woman shop assistant, who had been threatened by Hunte with a machete, and his accomplice, who was armed with a realistic looking imitation hand gun, found she could no longer continue working at the shop. She had to resign and is said to be suffering from sleepless nights and depression.

A male shop assistant at the Nisa store and post office, Hillborough Crescent, Houghton Regis, who was the victim of Hunte and his accomplice on 08 November last year, has also resigned from the store and was so fearful that the robbers would come looking for him, he has sold his home and moved out of the area with his wife. Judge Stuart Bridge hearing the case was told by Kevin West, prosecuting, that the man has grown a beard to disguise himself and can no longer bear to work inside a building and has taken work where he is outdoors.

Hunte, aged 34, of Albert Road, Luton pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery and two charges of having an offensive weapon. The robbery of the bookmakers, which was on 04 November last year was an offence he asked to be taken into consideration along with another charge of having an offensive weapon.

The court was told Hunte had only been out of prison for a matter of days last Autumn when he appeared in court for handling stolen goods. When he committed the first Nisa store robbery he was on bail for the handling matter and by the time of the Coral incident and the second Nisa store robbery, he was the subject of a community order - the sentence he had subsequently received for the handling.

Mr West said that, in all, Hunte stole between £700 and £1000 from the three robberies. As well as cash from the tills, he an his accomplice stole cigarettes and scratch cards.

Judge Bridge was told that in each robbery Hunte and his accomplice had their faces hidden by scarves. Hunte was armed with the machete and the other man, who has not been apprehended, was brandishing an imitation firearm.

The court was told that, despite their disguises, CCTV captured an image of Hunte at the Houghton Regis robbery and he was arrested soon afterwards.

Judge Bridge said he had reached the conclusion that Hunte posed a significant danger to the public and was likely to committ more serious offences. He senteneced him to an extended 17-year prison sentence, explaining that the custody element would be 12 years and the period he would be on licence would be a longer than normal period of 5 years.

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