‘Feeble’ robber struck at Leeds cafe where he worked

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A HAPLESS robber was caught after his boss saw through his disguise when he robbed her at knifepoint at the cafe where he worked.

Robert Niland was jailed for four years over the “feeble” attempt to get away with the offence.

A court heard Niland lived in a flat above the cafe on Hunslet Road, Leeds, and work there on a part time basis.

David Lampitt, prosecuting, said Niland was familiar with the layout of the premises and carried out the robbery at 7.30am on March 20 this year.

Niland, 36, walked into the cafe wearing a balaclava and approached the owner as she was preparing food.

He then threatened the victim with an eight-inch kitchen knife and ordered her to go into a backroom.

Niland locked her inside the room before taking around £300 in cash. The victim used her mobile phone to contact police who arrived at the cafe and unlocked the door.

The woman told officers of her suspicions about Niland. They went upstairs to his flat and found the weapon used during the robbery.

Niland handed himself in to police four days later but denied the offence. He claimed he had been elsewhere with two other men at the time of the offence.

When officers approached the men Niland had named they refused to give him an alibi.

They told police they had seen Niland with a bag of money on the day of the robbery.

Niland pleaded guilty to robbery. He has previous convictions for burglary and theft.

Gareth Moore, mitigating, said Niland admitted the offences at an early opportunity and accepted full responsibility for what he had done.

Mr Moore said Niland had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for a long time.

Judge James Spencer, QC, said: “You are 36-years-of-age and have a bad record for dishonesty. You moved into a different league on March 30 this year.

“You knew that woman would be alone and, because she was alone at that time of day, she was vulnerable.

“It was aggravated because of her vulnerability and because you locked her up.

“You were caught, of course, and made this feeble attempt at establishing an alibi.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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