Robber picked on wrong man

Gary Aspinall
Gary Aspinall
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A would-be robber who targeted a man depositing the day’s takings from a charity shop took on more than he bargained for – when his victim slammed him into a shop window.

Gary Aspinall, 44, later apologised to his victim after he was chased and thrown into a shop window by the man and a Good Samaritan who came to help detain him.

Give me the money, I’ve got a knife

When the police arrived to arrest Aspinall, of Hartford Avenue, South Shore, he told them: “I’ve got the wrong bloke. Sorry. I’m on licence.”

But after pleading guilty to attempted robbery he was jailed for two years and eight months when he appeared at Preston Crown Court.

The court heard Aspinall spotted his victim, Liam Craven, walking towards the NatWest bank in Clifton Street, Blackpool, after he had locked up the Life charity shop at around 12.45am on March 3.

As Mr Craven walked towards the bank he became aware he was being followed.

He dropped the day’s takings into the safety deposit box and locked the door, but seconds later he felt Aspinall’s hand round his throat.

Aspinall said: “Give me the money, I’ve got a knife”, and Mr Craven saw him pull his hand from his pocket and felt something digging into his side.

Mr Craven told him he would get the money but as Aspinall tried to drag him into an alley beside the cash point Mr Craven elbowed him in the face and managed to break free.

Aspinall ran away but Mr Craven and another man found him hiding in a doorway.

He told them: “I’m sorry. I have got an alcohol problem” before running away again but the men gave chase and Mr Craven threw him into a shop window, ordering him to stay where he was until the police arrived.

He admitted he had been involved in the incident with Mr Craven but told officers it was a case of mistaken identity as he thought he was a man who had assaulted him in the past.

However he said he had not been carrying a knife.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Craven said he was terrified by the incident and had given up his job at the charity shop a few weeks after the incident as he had lost his confidence and did not feel safe.

Since his arrest Aspinall has undertaken a number of programmes in prison to address his drink problems.

Judge Michael Byrne, sentencing, said: “The fear for the victim was just as much as it would have been if it had been the full offence of robbery and it has caused significant difficulties.

“This was a very serious offence. The victim was very vulnerable in the early hours of the morning, going alone carrying the proceeds of the shop to a night safe, as inevitably any such person is vulnerable.

“Although no actual weapon was produced, the effect on the victim was the same as if it had been.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Aspinall was ordered to pay a statutory surcharge.