Robber and burglar jailed - Luton

08/03/2013

A Sri Lankan, who robbed a convenience store where his brother had worked, threatened to kill the lone shop assistant with a knife he was holding to her neck. And four months before the robbery Pukenkumar (Pusken) Gunasingam had burgled the home of a fellow countryman while the family were on holiday in Sri Lanka. A neighbour found the family's home completely ransacked.

Gunasingam, 28, of Rosedale Close, Luton, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to robbery, possession of a knife and burglary and was jailed for a total of three years on Friday, 08 March 2013.

Simon Wilshire, prosecuting said the burglary was committed at the end of July last year at a house in Peregrin Road, Luton.

A neighbour who was keeping an eye on the house was unable to get in one day because the security chain had been secured on the inside. Another neighbour cut through it and inside they found every room had been ransacked. Floorboards had been lifted, including some in the loft and a bath panel destroyed.

The owners later discovered almost £5,000 of property had been taken including lap tops and jewellery. They were very distressed, especially the three children, who had also had their money boxes taken.

Gunasingam's fingerprint was found inside the window, but he was not arrested at that stage.

On 09 December last year, a 21-year-old shop assistant opened up the Premier convenience store in Trinity Road, Luton, and began sorting the newspapers when a man entered the shop with his face covered by a scarf.

Mr Wilshire said: "He turned the shop lights off and then approached the assistant telling her "give me the keys or I will kill you" which he repeated three or four times. He was pointing a knife towards her neck.

"She thought he wanted the keys to the cash machine. Then he jumped over the counter and took some cigarettes, but saw that she was trying to use her mobile phone.

"He grabbed her arm and demanded the phone and there was a brief struggle during which she received a cut to her hand. He took her phone and left the shop."

The barrister said that the defendant had left his bag in the shop which contained a hammer and some net curtain wire.

The manager of the shop recognised him on the CCTV footage because his brother had been employed there until August last year.

Nicholas Ham, defending said Gunasingam came to the UK in 2001 and his protracted application for asylum has only recently been granted.

In the meantime he married a British citizen and depended heavily on her for everything, but in 2012 she left him and went to Canada.

"His life fell apart, he was drinking heavily and attempted to kill himself. He was completely depressed and found life utterly meaningless. He even went to a police station and asked them to arrest him because he thought he was going to do something."

The barrister said the offending was out of character.

Judge Philip Bartle QC told the defendant: "You must have terrified the young woman working in that shop because you told her you would kill her when you produced the knife."

Referring to the burglary he said: "You left that house in an appalling state. The effect of a burglary like that cannot be underestimated."

He sentenced Gunasingam to two years and four months for robbery and possession of the knife and eight months for burglary, the sentences to run consecutively.

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