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Robber jailed for three knife-point raids on shops in quarter of an hour

Damien Eichner
Damien Eichner

A robber who tried to escape across rooftops after holding up three shops at knife-point within 15 minutes has been jailed for eight years and four months.

Judge Robert Altham, sitting at Preston Crown Court, told Damien Eichner, 25, of no fixed abode, his behaviour was ‘terrifying’ to his victims.

He added: “People who run shops like this are particularly vulnerable to attacks because people like you knows there’s money on the premises, that they have little money to spend on security, and that they are alone.

“One victim in case has had to spend money he has earned to erect a plastic shield behind which he works. We’ve all had the experience in going in a shop where shopkeepers are required to work behind a Perspex shield - it’s a terrible environment for them to work, it’s a terrible environment for customers.”

Preston Crown Court heard police were called to the central area of Blackpool at 4.13pm on September 10 after he struck at Bishpam Local Store.

Within minutes he also struck at Bargain Select on Holmfield Road, and a McColl’s shop.

Eichner was spotted by eagle eyed residents scaling a roof to escape, but not before stealing a crate of beer from a nearby resident.

At 6.50pm he was seen strolling down Montpellier Street with the stolen beer and was arrested.

Prosecuting, Kimberley Obrusik, said: “They happened quickly, in succession.

“Mr Arumugam was behind the counter. Bispham Local Store is an independent store. The doorway is very close to the counter which is sealed off by a wooden half door.

“The defendant enters with a knife in his right hand and scissors in his left hand. He immediately went behind the counter and was shouting “Open the till, give me the cash” whilst waving his arms towards the complainant.

“The complainant shouts towards the defendant: ‘Don’t make trouble - there’s a police officer in the back.

“Following that the defendant leaves the store. He is wearing a hood pulled tight around the bottom of his face and his sleeves pulled over his hands. He was unsuccessful in stealing anything from that shop.

The court heard in a victim impact statement the first shopkeeper said: “I was in genuine fear for my safety - I was in fear for my life”

The prosecutor added: “ It was reported at 4.13pm. At 4.16pm there was a report of another attempt at Bargain Select. There were two staff behind the till.

“The defendant is seen to enter the shop and he used bodily force to barge open the door. He goes behind the counter. He is described as having a knife in his hand, and they run away and out of a different door to get away from him.

“The defendant goes to the middle of the tills and attempts to gain access. When he realises he’s unsuccessful he then runs out of the store.

“The third occasion was at 4.23pm at McColls, again with his face covered. Two women were working in the store.

“When the defendant entered, he approached one of them and demanded ‘give me the money’. She described him as appearing drunk and didn’t immediately take him seriously. It was only when he raised his hand with the knife in it that she took him seriously.

“At that point the defendant pushed his elbow against the back of her neck and guided her towards the counter.

“She managed to push the silent alarm, but the defendant noticed that and commented upon it. He demanded she open the till. The store owner says £200 was taken.

“ A pair of scissors were dropped by the defendant during this offence.

“ By this point police attend the general scene and a male is seen running along roofs.”

Eichner trembled in the dock as defending, Julie Taylor, said he became a father 10 days ago, missing out of the baby’s early days because he had been on remand.

She said: “He accepts full responsibility, he can’t explain why he did what he did. He hadn’t been able to obtain his medication and stupidly chose to self medicate with alcohol and cocaine.

“He has no recollection of it.”

Judge Robert Altham said: “What clear is you had planned for a robbery, firstly because you had taken a knife along, and also you had covered your face with a hood to try and conceal your identity.”