A man from Ellesmere Port has been jailed after committing a robbery at a convenience store in the town whilst armed with a screwdriver.
Robert Forbes, of Sutton Way in Great Sutton, repeatedly demanded money from a woman working behind the tills shortly after the store opened on the morning of Tuesday 12 January.
Seeing that the 40-year-old had a screwdriver in his hand, the sales assistant ran into the store room and pressed a panic alarm.
Forbes then went behind the counter and used his screwdriver to gain access to the drawers inside the two tills.
He took £100 out of one of the drawers and fled the store on Old Chester Road in Great Sutton whilst carrying the other, which also contained £100.
After getting the money out of the till drawer, Forbes ditched it nearby.
He also ditched the screwdriver and the trousers he was wearing during the robbery before fleeing the area in a taxi that he had called.
The mobile phone used to call the taxi firm was linked to Forbes, and cell site data subsequently revealed that the phone was in the area at the time of the robbery.
Forbes was identified as the offender by an officer who viewed CCTV footage of the robbery, and following fast-track forensic work his DNA was found on the trousers that he ditched in a bin near to the convenience store.
A police manhunt was launched and an off-duty officer saw Forbes sitting in a car in the Stanney Woods area of Ellesmere Port at around 1.30pm on Thursday 14 January.
He notified colleagues and several marked police cars subsequently arrived at the scene.
The officer then attempted to open the front driver side door.
At that point Forbes attempted to flee, revving the engine and ramming a police car that had parked behind him.
He stopped the engine when another officer in attendance drew his Taser.
Forbes was subsequently arrested and it was established that he had been driving the car whilst banned.
When interviewed in custody Forbes admitted to being responsible for the robbery.
Forbes claimed that he had committed the offence whilst on a drugs and alcohol binge and had used the money that he stole to buy cocaine.
He stated that he had little memory of the robbery and expressed remorse for his actions, which he blamed on a growing addiction to the class A drug.
Forbes was subsequently charged with robbery, dangerous driving and driving without a licence and insurance.
He pleaded guilty to the offences and was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday 12 February.
Forbes was jailed for four years and two months, and his driving ban was extended by two years, to three years.
When sentencing him, HHJ Simon Berkson said ‘sadly you have gone back to your old ways’.
The judge also hailed the ‘good police work to identify the offender’.
Detective Constable Chris O’Connor, who led the investigation into the robbery on behalf of Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit, said: “There were customers in the convenience store when Robert Forbes carried out the robbery whilst armed with a screwdriver.
“He subjected the sales assistant to a frightening ordeal.
“Extensive enquiries led to us establishing that Forbes was the offender and subsequently locating and arresting him in the following days.
“He damaged a police car trying to evade capture, ramming it with a vehicle he was driving whilst banned.
“As a result, the police car used to help serve the public had to be taken off the road.
“With the extent of the evidence that we gathered against Forbes – through CCTV footage, information provided by witnesses and a taxi firm, discarded items found by members of the public and forensic work – we were always confident of him being convicted of the robbery, as well as driving offences.
“He ended up pleading guilty to all of the offences and is now behind bars facing the consequences of his actions.
“With Forbes blaming his offending on an addiction to cocaine, this case highlights the fact that illegal drugs blight our communities, causing untold damage to both those that use them and the wider society who suffer from the resulting crime.
“I hope this case deters others from using illegal drugs and committing similar offences, and I would like to thank all the members of the public who helped us bring Forbes to justice.”
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said:“I want to thank all the officers and detectives involved in this investigation. As a result of their impressive work and the information provided by members of the public, a man willing to commit armed robbery and drive whilst banned is now behind bars.
“This case also acts as a reminder of the wider impact that illegal drugs have on our communities.
“It’s not just about people buying and selling illegal drugs, it’s also about the lengths that people will go to in order feed their addictions, which can have widespread repercussions.
“I urge anyone who is experiencing difficulties with addictions to seek help. There is lots of support available to beat your addiction and rebuild your life.”