24-year-old raided shop while on bail for shoplifting
A young woman gripped by heroin and crack cocaine addiction who took part in a knifepoint robbery at a newsagent’s shop has been jailed for three-and-a-half years. Margaret Smith, 24, from Herne Bay, was one of two people who targeted McColl’s in Preston Street, Faversham, on September 1 last year, and stole cash, cigarettes and vodka. The shop assistant, Danielle Bryce, was alone in the shop at about 7.30pm when Smith and a man came in, both wearing hoodies over their heads. Miss Bryce was at the counter when the man went to pay for a can of cider. But Maidstone Crown Court heard he then pulled out a 5m knife and placed it on the till, demanding money. Smith, who was standing next to her accomplice, then demanded cigarettes. Prosecutor Ian Foinette said one of the robbers then told Miss Bryce she would not be hurt if she did as she was told. She handed over about £300 in notes and five packets of cigarettes before being told to give them two bottles of vodka. The man then reached over and took another £100 in coins from the till. Smith, who was on bail for shoplifting at the time of the robbery, was said to have “stood and watched” as he helped himself but she then threatened Miss Bryce as they left, saying:
“Don’t bother calling the police. I know where you are.”
Mr Foinette said the shop assistant was “greatly affected” by her ordeal.
“This was the second occasion something such as this had happened to her within a couple of months and she described herself as being a nervous wreck and crying on and off all day.”
The court heard she was later prescribed anti-depressants, felt scared to leave her house and was reluctant to return to work. Smith, of High Street, Herne Bay, admitted robbery. She had previous convictions for shoplifting, battery, assaulting police, criminal damage and failing to comply with community orders. Tom Dunn, defending, said she had suffered from a “crippling and chronic” addiction to both heroin and crack cocaine, which had caused “carnage” in her life. He told the court Smith had been free of the class A drugs for the past four months while on remand in prison, and urged the court to adjourn sentence for a drug rehabilitation requirement assessment.
“This offence was committed while in the grip of that addiction and society’s prospects of being protected from further offending by her are best preserved if she was able to remain drug-free,” said Mr Dunn. “She has finally realised, and it is a unique moment for her, that she has a problem. She has expressed remorse through her early guilty plea and expressed determination to tackle the underlying issues.”
Recorder Matthew McDonagh said the offence was “too serious” and aggravated by the fact Smith had been on bail at the time. He said the effects of the robbery on Miss Bryce were ones “one can well understand”. Jailing Smith, who is on a methadone prescription, the judge said:
“At the age of 24 you have an unenviable record for matters of violence and dishonesty, no doubt to feed the addiction that has gripped you for years.”
He added, however, that this was an offence “far removed” from those she had previously been convicted of. The court heard that Paul Godden, 35, of Swallowtail Close, Station Lane, St Mary Cray, was due to stand trial for robbery at the same court last week. The prosecution offered no evidence after legal argument.
Herne Bay Gazette, March 19th 2015