An armed robber who forced a woman shop worker in Bedford to hand over £5000 from the safe, gave her a cuddle before making off with the money, Luton Crown Court heard today (3 June).
Jason Speed is alleged to have put his arm around the terrified woman’s shoulders to give her a hug while still holding the large kitchen knife.
Shortly before, it’s claimed he had threatened to murder her with it.
The moment was caught on CCTV cameras inside the newsagents and played to a jury at Luton crown court.
The 48 year old, of The Wharfe, Bedford, pleads not guilty to the robbery at the newsagents shop in Avon Drive, Brickhill in Bedford on the morning of Boxing Day, (December 26) 2018.
He also denies a second charge of having a bladed article.
Prosecutor Jolson Robertson told the court at the start of the trial: “In essence this incident is about armed robbery.”
He then told how the scene of the robbery was Martins newsagents in Avon Drive.
The jury heard how, early that morning at around 5.30am, Donna Wilson opened up the shop.
Trade was quiet at that time of the day and around 6.30am she stepped outside the door of the shop for a cigarette.
“She noticed a male, who we say was Jason Speed, coming towards her,” said Mr Robertson.
He said she thought he had been drinking and could smell alcohol on him as he walked past her.
Mr Robertson said the defendant suddenly turned towards Donna Wilson brandishing a knife with a 10 inch blade.
“He held the knife against her and said he was going to stick it in her. He said he would murder her if she pressed the alarm,” he said.
The court heard the woman was “terrified” as she was taken back into the shop and told to get the key to the safe.
Mr Robertson said Miss Wilson was “shaking” with fear as she got the key and opened the safe.
“He was threatening to stab her if anyone came in,” said the prosecutor.
Mr Robertson said the safe was opened by the shop worker, who was then forced to hand over £5000 to the defendant.
The shop’s CCTV system caught much of what was happening and a clip from it was played in court, which showed the robber just before he made off with the money reach around the shoulders of Miss Wilson and hug her.
“Strangely he gave her a cuddle,” said Mr Robertson.
The jury was told a lady customer had seen the robber make off and heard him shout back to Miss Wilson: “Don’t call the police!”
She claimed she had seen him around the area and in the same clothes that he was wearing that morning – a dark jacket and grey tracksuit bottoms.
The woman also said the man had a scouse or Liverpudlian accent.
The prosecutor said the next day – December 27 – Mr Speed was arrested at an address in Swale Path, Bedford.
He denied he had committed the robbery, and the jury heard officers found £1340 on him, which he claimed was his own money.
Mr Robertson said officers also recovered a large kitchen knife from the address which bore a “striking resemblance” to the knife used by the robber and which had been seen in the CCTV footage.
Mr Robertson said that later Miss Wilson was asked to attend an “ID parade” and picked out a photo of Mr Speed as the man who had robbed her.
So too, he said, did the woman customer who had seen the robber making off from the shop.