Robber with toy gun storms off before getting an 11-year sentence

Lewis Orford

Lewis Orford - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A  "dangerous" offender armed with an imitation gun who held up two village stores and tried to rob an 80-year-old stormed out before being handed an 11-year sentence.

Lewis Orford, 30, was appearing over a link from Norwich Prison when he interrupted the judge to say he was not dangerous as it was a toy gun.

He then waved goodbye and walked out of the hearing at Norwich Crown Court.

The rest of his sentencing then continued in his absence.

The court heard how Orford armed himself with a plastic gun and held up Hart Stores and post office in Costessey, pointing the weapon at staff and demanding cash from the till.

He also pointed the gun at an 80-year-old customer, but she also refused to hand over her purse.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said Orford fled empty-handed but then 20 minutes later struck again, this time pointing the weapon at a female member of staff at Victoria Stores in Mattishall.

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She also refused to hand over cash so he stole a charity box containing about £40.

In an impact statement assistant Susan Potter, who worked at the Costessey store, said she had been badly affected by what happened and now had trouble sleeping.

Orford, of Townhouse Road, Costessey, admitted two counts of having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence on January 26 this year.

Orford also admitted attempted robbery at the Costessey store and robbery at the Mattishall store. He also admitted attempted robbery of the 80-year-old.

Judge Katharine Moore said he was a dangerous offender and imposed an 11-year sentence made up of seven years custody and four years extended licence.

She said small village stores were a backbone for communities, especially during lockdown, and they were vulnerable targets: "Those that work in shops such as this deserve protection of the law."

She praised the spirit of the customer who refused to hand over her purse, as she had later gone back to the store to finish her shopping and check on the welfare of staff.

Andrew Thompson, defending Orford, said he was desperate as he owed a £5,000 drugs debt.

He said Orford, who had mental health problems in the past, had used the plastic toy gun as a bluff.

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