Blackburn armed robber jailed for eight years

AN ARMED robber who threatened to kill workers at a massage parlour has been jailed.

Curtis Pearce, 23, ‘snarled like an animal’ as he brandished a 12-inch kitchen knife and demanded money at Raffles, in Blackburn, a court heard.

The defendant, of Torridon Close, Blackburn, also admitted raiding a Darwen off licence armed with a hammer.

He was sentenced to eight years and five months behind bars.

Summing up at Preston Crown Court, Judge Edward Byrne said in the first attack, Pearce burst into the Lower Cockcroft business wearing a grey hoodie around his face and a black-coloured mask.

The judge said one of the massage parlour victims, who had put the day’s takings in an envelope, had described Pearce as ‘desperate and angry’.

He had shouted at the terrified woman ‘I will kill you’ as he demanded the money.

Judge Byrne said: “He was shouting loudly and appeared to be snarling like an animal that was desperate and angry.

“So close was she to him that at one stage she could feel the blade on her neck.

“She was pleading with him to calm down.

“Her colleague and friend was cowering behind her.”

The court was told that when Pearce realised there was only £176 in the envelope, he demanded more cash.

Judge Byrne said the victim ‘burst out crying’ as she gave her statement to the police.

He said: “She was shocked and frightened and did not wish to come back to work.”

In the second robbery, at Bargain Booze, in Bolton Road, Darwen, Pearce and another man used hammers to force the shopkeeper to open the till, the court was told.

The pair took £100.

Both attacks were caught on CCTV.

The court heard how Pearce had also been given a six-month suspended sentence for an assault on his girlfriend.

The robberies put him in breach of that sentence, which Judge Byrne said he had to take into consideration.

He said: “There was no actual physical force used on any of the robbery victims, but the mental injury sustained was substantial.

“They are very serious offences committed on very vulnerable victims who the defendant knew would be in charge of money.

“He committed the offences without regard to the welfare or any thought to his victims.”

The judge said that in a pre-sentence report, Pearce had expressed ‘deep regret’ for what he had done and said that he was ashamed by his behaviour. He had 37 offences on his record.

He was also told his Volkswagen Golf would be seized by police because it had been used in the crimes.

Speaking after the hearing, DC David Gill, from Blackburn CID, said he hoped the sentence would act as a deterrent.

He said: “This is a young man, who at 23 years of age, has committed many previous offences of violence which shows a concerning escalation of criminal activity and violence.

“This is a fantastic result which I hope sends out a clear warning to any other people who in the run up to Christmas are considering committing similar offences.

“We will identify you, you will be brought before the courts and the justice system will not tolerate these offences.”


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