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Brave Norwich newsagent who foiled knifepoint robbers welcomes jail sentences

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:06 06 April 2018

Shopkeeper Kuganeswaran Shanmugam defended his off licence in Heigham Street, Norwich, from armed would-be robbers

Shopkeeper Kuganeswaran Shanmugam defended his off licence in Heigham Street, Norwich, from armed would-be robbers

Archant

A brave shopkeeper who had a knife pointed at his face in an attempted robbery has welcomed the prison sentences imposed on his attackers.

CCTV image of the attempted robbery at Heigham Street newsagents on December 9. Picture: Norfolk PoliceCCTV image of the attempted robbery at Heigham Street newsagents on December 9. Picture: Norfolk Police

Kuganeswaran Shanmugam, described by a crown court judge as being “made of stern stuff”, used a chair to fight off his attackers.

He said he was pleased that his attackers Katie Lane and Ben Ashford were now behind bars.

The pair had burst into Heigham Street News and Off Licence in Norwich in December last year, brandishing knives.

CCTV images showed one of the blades being pointed at him.

Ben Ashford was sentenced to three  years for attempted robbery and possession of a knife. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyBen Ashford was sentenced to three years for attempted robbery and possession of a knife. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

But Mr Shanmugam fought back. He tried to grab one of the knives and used to a chair to fend off the pair, who fled.

However, justice caught up with the duo, who were this week sentenced after they admitted brandishing knives and attempted robbery.

Lane, 25, of Shorncliffe Avenue in Norwich, was sentenced to an extended nine year term of four years’ custody and five years on licence, while Ashford, 26, of Rackham Road in Norwich was jailed for three years.

Lane was caught after she tried to rob Bowers Supermarket in Bowers Avenue, Mile Cross, two days after the attack on Mr Shanmugam.

Katie Lane was given a nine year extended sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possession of a knife. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyKatie Lane was given a nine year extended sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possession of a knife. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

When she demanded money, a member of staff ran out and barricaded her in the shop. After she was arrested, police searched her home and discovered two knives, with blue and pink blades.

Mr Shanmugam said of the sentences: “I am very happy. Norwich police came very quickly and I was very pleased with them. It was scary, as another minute and I could have been dead.”

His bravery was praised by Judge Anthony Bate, who sentenced the pair.

He said of Mr Shanmugam: “He stood his ground and tried to grab one of the knives. He picked up the chair he was sitting on to make clear they were getting nothing from him.”

The court heard from Lane’s solicitor Gavin Cowe that she had “brief stays in mental health hospitals” and had a “troubled background from the early stages of childhood”.

The judge said she was a “dangerous offender”, who posed “a significant risk to the public”.

The mitigation given at Norwich Crown Court for Ashford was that he suffered from mental health difficulties and an intellectual disability.

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