Robbers jailed for terrifying knife raid on Wyke convenience store - see CCTV footage

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The moment thug brandished knife at terrified shopkeeper The moment thug brandished knife at terrified shopkeeper

A shopkeeper left cowering behind his counter by masked raiders wielding a carving knife won praise from a judge as the robbers were each locked up for five years and nine months.

The weapon was brandished at Bhavin Patel by Lee Thompson, while his accomplice Jonathan Simpson rifled the till.

Mr Patel, 30, whose family runs the P N’k convenience store in Huddersfield Road, Wyke, was left with a permanently injured right hand in the struggle with the raiders on June 15.

CCTV cameras in the shop captured the terrifying robbery and footage was played in court yesterday.

Simpson, 33, of Falkland Road, Ravenscliffe, Bradford, and Thompson, 26, of York House, Thorpe Edge, Bradford, pleaded guilty to robbery.

Thompson admitted criminal damage after hurling bottles of stolen spirits at off-duty police officer Stephen Hepworth’s car as he pursued him after the robbery.

Detective Constable Hepworth, whose car was caused £877 of damage, was publicly commended by Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC.

The judge also praised Mr Patel’s strength of character, telling him: “You offer a very vital service to the community.”

Prosecutor Tim Capstick said Mr Patel opened his shop at 5am that Saturday.

At 7.40am, the two robbers burst in wearing hooded tops and scarves round their faces.

Thompson brandished the knife at Mr Patel while Simpson shoved him into a corner.

The struggle left keen cricketer Mr Patel with a severely dislocated finger on his right hand that has badly affected his playing ability.

While Mr Patel cowered behind the counter, Thompson grabbed packets of cigarettes and bottles of spirits and Simpson snatched about £200 from the till.

Thompson was arrested after his fingerprints were found on a packet of cigarettes he dropped as he fled the scene.

This was Simpson’s third conviction for robbery. In 2006, he was jailed for five years for a gang raid on a supermarket. He was sentenced to another five years behind bars for house-breaking in 2010.

Thompson’s record included burglary, wounding and dangerous driving.

Ash Mahmood, solicitor advocate for Thompson, said this was his first conviction for robbery and that he wanted to apologise to Mr Patel.

Ian Howard, barrister for Simpson, said it was a short-lived, although extremely frightening, offence.

Simpson planned to move away from Bradford and start a new life with his partner and young son, the court heard.

Judge Durham Hall said the robbery caused Mr Patel fear and distress.

He told the defendants: “You left Mr Patel under no misapprehension that you meant business. Mr Thompson, you brandished that knife with great enthusiasm, and Mr Patel can have been left in no doubt about the consequences of failing to comply.”

After the case, Mr Patel, whose family has been running the shop since April 2012, said his customers had been very supportive.

“The knife didn’t look real at first but when it was coming at me in a stabbing motion I grabbed the blade and I felt the cold steel – then I knew it was real,” he said.

Detective Constable Dean Smith, of Bradford CID, said after the case: “Both Thompson and Simpson chose to commit a violent, planned robbery against a hard-working victim who was simply doing his job.

“The sentences given today show how seriously this type of crime is viewed by police and the courts and should serve as a firm warning to others thinking of committing such offences; if you do, you will go to prison.”

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