Pair who brandished knives in Norwich shop raids are jailed

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

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

City shop staff who were terrorised by raids over the course of two days in December helped catch the pair responsible for an attempted armed robbery.

Heigham News and Off Licence in Heigham Street, Norwich.

Heigham News and Off Licence in Heigham Street, Norwich. - Credit: Harriet Orrell

Katie Lane and Ben Ashford were jailed at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday after admitting brandishing knives and demanding cash in an attempted robbery of Heigham Street newsagents on December 9.

Two days later, the pair were apprehended after Lane was barricaded inside Bowers supermarket by its assistant manager, having burst in and demanded money from the till.

On December 9, around 8pm, Lane and Ashford had burst into the newsagents armed with knives with pink and blue blades.

'The shop owner describes each of them threatening him with knives demanding he give them money,' said prosecutor Martin Ivory.

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

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


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'CCTV photos show a blue blade being held to the lower portion of the complainant's face and neck. The images paint a thousand words.'

The pair escaped but two days later the assistant manager at Bowers Supermarket in Mile Cross saw a woman she didn't recognise open the door.

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'As soon as she went back to the till the defendant walked into the shop,' said Mr Ivory. 'She and the defendant were the only two people in the store. She jumped onto the counter and said 'open the till or I will hurt you'.

'She realised she did not have time or opportunity to use the panic button.'

Shopkeeper Kuganeswaran Shanmugam defended his off licence in Heigham Street, Norwich, from armed wo

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

The shop worker ran from the store and barricaded Lane inside while she helped herself to a bottle of Malibu from behind the counter. When police arrived they arrested Lane, and a search of her home revealed two knives, with pink and blue blades.

Gavin Cowe, mitigating for Lane, said she has had 'brief stays in mental health hospitals'.

'Perhaps that combined with drug misuse led to her state of mind being as it was,' he said. 'She has had a troubled background from the early stages of childhood.'

Edward Renvoize, for Ashford, said he suffers from mental health difficulties and a intellectual disability.

Katie Lane was given a nine year extended sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possession of

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

He added it was 'clear who the group leader was' and 'his role was perhaps lower than his co-defendant'.

'There is a lack of maturity that affects his responsibility,' he added. 'Though the parties armed themselves this was an offence that lacked sophistication.'

'Significant risk of violence'

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

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

Judge Anthony Bate said Heigham Street newsagent shopkeeper Kuganeswaran Shanmugam was 'made of stern stuff' after fighting off the pair with a folding chair.

'He stood his ground and tried to grab one of the knives,' said the judge. 'He picked up the chair he was sitting on to make clear they were getting nothing from him.'

Jailing Lane, 25, of Shorncliffe Avenue, for an extended nine year term of four years custody and five years on licence after she admitted robbery, attempted robbery and possession of a knife, he described her as a 'dangerous offender'.

He said: 'She presently poses a significant risk to the public of violence, particularly when under the influence of illicit substances.'

He added he would be making recommendations to the Secretary of State she takes a structured programme for women.

'It is vital consistent and robust plans are made while she is in prison to address her long term risk of violent offending,' he said.

Ashford, 26, of Rackham Road, admitted attempted robbery and possession of a knife and was jailed for three years.

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