Glass attack raider jailed

Francis Worden
Francis Worden
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A MAN who tried to rob a Blackpool shop while high on drink and drugs has been jailed indefinitely.

Preston Crown Court heard how Francis Worden attacked assistant Johann Nelson with a piece of glass in one hand while demanding cash in the terrifying attack at the Co-op on Whitegate Drive on April 18.

A struggle followed and a judge said it was through a combination of luck, skill and determination on Mr Nelson’s part that he was only slightly injured.

Two male members of the public went to his aid to restrain Worden and Judge Graham Knowles said all three men should receive a £250 reward for their great bravery and determination.

The 25-year-old, of Newman Road, North Shore, had previously pleaded guilty to attempted robbery.

He will serve a minimum of almost three years jail before he can be considered for possible release.

Andrew Cresswell, prosecuting, said Worden had lunged at Mr Nelson, raising a hand in which he was clutching a piece of glass.

The glass was held to Mr Nelson’s neck, coming within two inches of his throat.

Mr Cresswell added: “The defendant demanded money. Instinctively, Mr Nelson grabbed at him and a tussle ensued. Mr Nelson was assisted in restraining the defendant by a customer.”

A colleague ran from the store and alerted a passer-by who also went into assist.

During attempts to restrain him, the defendant shouted that he had HIV and spat out, saying “now you’ve all got it”.

He then began to cry and ask where he was.

When police turned up he tried to bite and spit at an officer and even claimed he had a bomb on him. He simulated the sound of an explosion when he was rolled over.

Worden went on to tell police he had been “smashed” at the time.

He had consumed his share of two one litre bottles of vodka, half a bottle of brandy, a few lines of cocaine and eight valium tablets.

Mr Cresswell added “He said he recalled going in with a glass in his hand he believed he had picked up off the street.

“He didn’t recall putting it to the till operator’s throat, however he remembered being restrained, spitting and arguing. He denied the offence had been planned, but accepted he had been an idiot and said he wanted his apologies to be passed on to the victim.

He had 56 previous offences on record, including some for robbery.

His first crime of robbery had involved taking a bicycle off a paper boy when aged thirteen.

Natalia Cornwall, defending, said it was fortunate no serious injury had been inflicted in the latest case. He realised that a lengthy prison term would follow.

She added: “He is very remorseful for what he has done. That has been expressed from the outset. He has an appalling record.”

In passing the indeterminate sentence for public protection, Judge Knowles said: “There could very easily have been a fatal injury as the defendant ran at Johann Nelson with the glass held up in his hand.

“It was a combination of luck, skill and determination on Mr Nelson’s part which meant the injuries to him where slight in the end.”