Gazette helps snare hotel knife raiders

Karol Lipski  and (below) Adrian Koscielski

Karol Lipski and (below) Adrian Koscielski

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A knife-wielding robber and his accomplice today woke up behind bars after admitting trying to hold up a crowded seafront Blackpool hotel.

Adrian Koscielski and Karol Lipski, both Polish, were snared by police after they were recognised from a CCTV appeal in The Gazette.

Karol Lipski  and (below) Adrian Koscielski

Karol Lipski and (below) Adrian Koscielski

Back in the summer, the pair burst into The Lyndene, on the Promenade, with their faces covered and hoods up.

Koscielski, 21, of Stirling Road, brandished a seven-inch knife while Lipski, 23, of Dutton Road, North Shore, vaulted the counter, Preston Crown Court heard. The latter was tackled and forced into a side room by two members of staff before the pair fled empty handed.

The court heard they changed clothes afterwards and tried to blend in as tourists as they made their escape.

Koscielski – who also pleaded guilty to a robbery a year earlier at the Co-op on Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, when he got away with £50 – was jailed for two-and-a-half years. Lipski got 18 months.

Det Sgt Kathryn Riley, of Blackpool CID, who led the investigation, said afterwards: “It was a terrifying ordeal for the people – many of them pensioners – who were in the hotel at the time.

“We identified the pair through an appeal in The Gazette. Somebody recognised one of them and it was through him we identified the other.

“I am pleased we have taken these dangerous individuals off the streets of Blackpool.”

The court heard the pair had both previously worked at the hotel – Koscielski used to be a kitchen porter, while Lipski had worked in the restaurant.

A female guest who had been standing in the reception area at the time of the robbery bid spoke of feeling numb and shocked by what took place.

The court heard the pair both turned to drugs in hard times, which led them to committing the offence.

Julie Taylor, defending Koscielski, said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, adding: “He recognises the victim impact, that his behaviour was appalling and, in his own words, dangerous.

“He never had any intention to use the knife, other than to make them afraid.”

Chris Hudson, for Lipski, said he was a decent young man who had acted out of character.

“The offence was drugged, drunken stupidity,” he added. “They didn’t decide to do it until about an hour beforehand.”

Sentencing, the judge, Recorder Anthony Cross QC, said the offences were very serious.

He added: “I accept it wasn’t a particularly sophisticated plan, but it took some thinking about. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

Both men pleaded guilty to two offences of attempted robbery over the incident at the Lyndene. Koscielski also pleaded to having an offensive weapon - a knife - and the robbery at the Co-op.