Desperate dope-sick addict tried to rob Wakefield Greggs, Costa and WHSmith 'within minutes'

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A desperate addict who had drug-withdrawal sickness tried to rob three shops in the space of 15 minutes to get cash for his fix.

Simon Hancock, a former care-home manager, demanded cash from the tills in WHSmith, then Greggs and finally a Costa Coffee during an early-morning spree in Wakefield city centre. He got away with £190 from the coffee shop after stealing the cash from a handbag belonging to a member of staff.

The 35-year-old admitted two counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery at Leeds Crown Court. Appearing this morning via video link from HMP Leeds, where he was being held on remand, he was jailed for three years.

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The court heard that Hancock walked into the WHSmith in Wakefield Bus Station at around 6.35am on February 5 this year, picking up a milkshake and approaching the counter. He then said to the worker: “Open the till. There are three guys out back.”

After the worker refused, he repeated it three times, before trying to grab a charity box chained to the till and pulled it, tipping the till over. He then left emptyhanded, other than milkshake.

Hancock hit three shops in the space of 15 minutes, desperately needing money for drugs. (pics by WYP / Google Maps)Hancock hit three shops in the space of 15 minutes, desperately needing money for drugs. (pics by WYP / Google Maps)
Hancock hit three shops in the space of 15 minutes, desperately needing money for drugs. (pics by WYP / Google Maps)

Just after 7am he then entered the nearby Greggs outside The Ridings, approached the manager and told her: “Open the till and nobody will get hurt. I’ve got three men out back in a car.” She simply refused and Hancock left. But minutes later he walked into Costa opposite Wakefield Cathedral and told staff: “I need the till. I have got a car of people waiting.”

Staff hit the panic button but Hancock walked around the counter pushing the staff member and tried to open the touchscreen till himself, but failed. He tried to snatch the woman’s key card, but she snatched it back. He then grabbed a handbag and took the money out before fleeing.

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He was arrested a short time later and charged. Mitigating, Sam Roxborough said Hancock had been living on the streets since 2022 having become addicted to drugs. He said he was “in a state of withdrawal” from drugs and was desperately needing money.

He said: “He expresses regret for his actions and feels remorse for what he put the victims through. He is fortunate they were not more shaken by this incident.”

He said that Hancock has nine previous convictions for 32 offences, but did not start offending until 2022. He had been a night manager at a care home in Wakefield but had to take leave to look after his mother who suffered from brain cancer. His father had also died from stomach cancer.

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Mr Roxborough said: “It changed him enormously. As a coping mechanism, he turned to drugs.”

Judge Simon Batiste told Hancock: “Up until 2022 you had lived a life of having no convictions. Things have gone badly wrong in the last two or three years. You are clearly capable of living a law-abiding life.

“You need to get help with whatever your demons are. You need to get the help and put your life back on an even keel, otherwise the sentences will get longer and longer.”