A TEENAGER who robbed a Penrith petrol station worker at knifepoint and then plotted to rob a woman at an ATM in the town just weeks later has been jailed for almost a decade.
Paul Stuchfield, 19, was branded a “latter day Fagin” by a judge at Carlisle Crown Court for involving younger boys in terrifying crimes.
Stuchfield was accompanied by a 15-year-old when he entered the Esso garage shop on Bridge Lane, Penrith, just before midnight in October 13. “He produced a three-inch flick knife, threatened the male employee and demanded all the money,” said prosecutor Brendan Burke, who told how the worker was left “nervous and somewhat paranoid”.
Hooded Stuchfield was handed £125 cash and, as he and the youth left the store, they grabbed sweets from a shelf.
Then, on the late afternoon of January 16, Stuchfield and a 14-year-old boy were heard in Penrith’s McDonald’s boasting how they would cover their faces and rob a woman with a knife.
Less than two hours later, Stuchfield lurked in darkness close to a Barclays Bank cashpoint in the town centre as a blade-carrying 16-year-old accomplice approached a dental nurse from behind while she tried to withdraw cash. As she bravely resisted, she was stabbed and robbed her of belongings. A small knife with a blade bent almost to 90 degrees was recovered from the scene by police.
The victim, left with lower body puncture wounds, later spoke of an “awful, life-altering incident” which had “scarred me massively”. “To think that a knife has connected with my body and pierced my skin is terrifying,” she said. “Never did I think for one minute that I would be subject to something like this. I’ve never done anything to hurt anyone.”
Stuchfield, who admitted the garage robbery and was convicted of conspiracy to rob in connection with the ATM attack after a trial, was jailed for nine years today (MON).
Passing sentence, Judge James Adkin told Stuchfield, of Kirkoswald, near Penrith: “Despite your relative youth, you are something of a latter day Fagin, inducing children to commit serious criminal offences with you.”
The 16-year-old robber was handed 28 months’ detention in May. The other two boys involved in the criminal conduct have both also since been sentenced.
Speaking after the court hearing, Detective Constable Stephen Kidd said: “This was a frightening ordeal for the victim and we hope the sentences handed out act as a deterrent to anyone out there tempted to carry a knife or use one to carry out crime.
“We also hope it brings some justice for the victim, who was just going about her everyday business.
“Fortunately, in Cumbria we do not have a specific knife crime culture and we continue to see a lower number of incidents than in other areas of the UK.
“However, we take the issue extremely serious.
“Any use of knives as part of criminality will not be tolerated.”
Work is carried out regularly to reduce the impact of knife crime and inform people about the dangers.
Officers and community support officers hold sessions with schools and youth groups to educate young people on the danger of knives.
DC Kidd added: “Being part of a group where anyone is carrying a knife increases the risk of serious harm being caused – and all of those with knowledge and involvement being prosecuted.”
If you suspect someone is carrying a knife – report it to police on 101.