Leeds couple jailed after hammer threat and racial abuse during B&M and Aldi robberies

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A couple have been jailed after supermarket staff member with a hammer and another was racially abused.

A sentencing hearing at Leeds Crown Court heard how Mark Swan, of Meadow Road, had threatened a member of staff at a branch of B&M with a hammer, before Caroline Donachie, of Seaforth Place, racially abused a security guard at an Aldi earlier this year.

While the sentencing judge accepted the two had drug addictions and were sorry for their actions, he said he had no choice but to put them behind bars due to the seriousness of the crimes.

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The court heard the two entered B&M in Albion Street, Castleford, on May 23 this year.

Caroline Donachie and Mark Swan were each sentenced to 27 months imprisonment.Caroline Donachie and Mark Swan were each sentenced to 27 months imprisonment.
Caroline Donachie and Mark Swan were each sentenced to 27 months imprisonment.

A member of staff was told to watch Donachie, 39, by a colleague, who recognised her. He went towards the tills where he saw Donachie had started to jog towards the door with two bags full of tools that hadn’t been paid for.

The member of staff then grabbed the bags from her, at which point, Swan, 51, shouted at him to get off her, and raised a hammer into the air.

Another member of staff then attempted to grab one of the bags, at which point a number of the items fell onto the floor.

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Donachie then grabbed a packet of ratchets out of the staff member’s hand, causing a large cut between her thumb and forefinger.

The second incident took place on 14 June in Lidl, Halton. The two attempted to make off with meat worth £96 at 4.20pm.

A security guard asked to see what was in a bag held by Donachie, who then pushed the guard, hurling a barrage of verbal abuse.

At this point, the security guard took out his phone to record her, before she began yelling racist insults at him, in full view of families with children.

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The two were arrested four days later, and both would eventually plead guilty to four counts of robbery.

The defendants were each held on remand in New Hall and Leeds prisons – each said “love you” when they saw each other appear by video link.

Mitigating for Donachie, Charlotte Noddings told the court that, in 2019, Donachie lost her brother, partner and uncle in the space of seven weeks, causing her life spiral and for her to turn to drugs to cope.

Miss Noddings added: “She lost her children, her home and her job. She had been living a very different life than she is now.”

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Mitigating for Swan, Matthew Stewart added his client had suffered his own problems with crack cocaine and homelessness, but was successfully reducing his dose on a methadone programme.

He added: “He fell under hard times with addiction and living on the streets – his time in prison has been good for him.

"He has been promoted to the post of cleaner in the prison, and has been trusted to serve dinners and lunches to other inmates.”

Sentencing the two, Recorder Peter Hampton said he could not overlook numerous previous offences by the two.

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“I accept there is remorse from both of you,” he said. "These were serious offences.

"Robberies such as these can only be met with immediate custody.”

He sentenced each of Donachie and Swan to 27 months in prison.