Kempston shopkeeper says he may sell-up after armed robbery

Kempston News, Bedford Road
Image: Google, Streetview (Jul 2018)

A Kempston shopkeeper who was the victim of an horrific armed robbery by two teenagers is so traumatised he may sell up.

The masked youths, who brandished a knife and a knuckle-duster, went into Kempston News General Stores on Bedford Road in broad daylight in December last year.

The man, who was working alone was punched around the head, face and body by the 16-year-old and 15-year-old.

CCTV played at Luton Crown Court yesterday and today (26 April) showed the 16-year-old point the knife at the terrified owner as he walked backwards through the shop with his hands in the air.

£300 in cash, alcohol and cigarettes were taken during the robbery, which happened just before 11am on 28 December 2018.

Prosecutor Sarah Porter said: “He [the shop owner] suffered lumps on the head, pain to the neck and shoulder. There has clearly been a significant psychological impact.

“He has had to recruit staff to cover for him, is scared to go out and is thinking of selling the business.”

Both defendants were arrested the next day after police recognised them from the CCTV. The older teenager was found at his girlfriend’s house. A bottle of Courvoisier stolen from the shop was also recovered.

When he was shown the CCTV, the older youth laughed and told an officer: “Do your job and prove it was me.”

The youths, who were living in the Bedford area and are now aged 17 and 16, cannot be named for legal reasons.

They appeared for sentence having earlier pleaded guilty to the robbery.

The 17-year-old was handcuffed in the dock and surrounded by nine custody officers following trouble while he was held on remand.

He had seven convictions for 10 previous offences, including possessing a knife and baseball bat.

The 16-year-old, who had three previous convictions, was allowed to remain outside the dock.

Claire Langevad, defending the 17-year-old, said: “He is a young man with a very troubled upbringing.”

She said he had been in care and had behaved “in an appalling manner” whilst held on remand in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.

Ms Langevad said the teenager, who has recently become a father, was remorseful.

Charles Judge, for the younger defendant, said he had also shown remorse, had a limited offending history and had a lack of stability in his upbringing.

Judge Richard Foster said: “The facts are as shocking as they must have terrifying for the victim. It was a premeditated armed robbery.

“The shopkeeper was punched repeatedly about the head, face and body and was threatened with a knife.”

He passed a total sentence of six years on the older boy – made up of a four year custodial sentence plus a further two years when he will be on licence and liable to be returned to custody.

The 16-year-old was given a Youth Rehabilitation Order with 12 months supervision. He must also abide by a curfew between 7pm and 7am.