Man, 74, defied masked man and saved shop owner in Post Office robbery
PUBLISHED: 13:53 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:44 03 October 2018
A 74-year-old shop helper escaped from a masked robber to raise the alarm - before bravely returning to the post office and locking himself and the owner behind a security screen.
The man was shoved to the floor by robber Lee Franklin, but managed to usher the owner of Mundesley Post Office away, and the pair sheltered in safety until Franklin fled, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Franklin, 35, of no fixed abode, burst into the post office on the morning of March 9 and pointed “something in a black bag” at two members of staff, before stealing bottles of spirits and £85, the court heard.
Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said: “At 6am, the owner and a 74-year-old helper were setting up the shop when an unknown man walked in and demanded money.
“He had his face covered and was holding and pointing something in a black bag. It must have been his intention that whoever saw it would assume it was a firearm.
“Franklin grabbed the owner and frogmarched him to the back of the store where £40,000 had been delivered the day before. When he was told it was time-locked, he smashed the owner’s head into the door, breaking his glasses.
“The helper got away and ran to the owner’s house nearby to tell his wife to call the police. When he returned he was shoved to the floor but bravely locked himself and the owner behind the security screen.”
Franklin, who had no previous convictions, was arrested in Bury St Edmunds following the offence and on Tuesday (October 2) was sentenced to four years in prison.
Franklin, who admitted robbery, carried out the attack after splitting from his wife and losing his home.
Jonathan Goodman, defending, said: “This appears to be the classic case of the banana in the bag but, looking at it carefully, there is no suggestion he had a firearm, and there were no threats made towards the victims.
“He was a hard-working man in a well-paid job with three young children and his life on track, but after splitting from his wife and being asked to leave his home with nowhere to go, he started drinking and returned to a cocaine habit, which led to such an amateurish and ill-judged attack on the post office.
“Seeing his children and rebuilding his life is now on hold. When he was apprehended, his first words were ‘It was me’, and he has been fully co-operative since. He is ashamed, embarrassed, and thoroughly remorseful.”
Judge Andrew Shaw said: “For reasons that seem a mystery to the defendant as much as to this court, he decided to embark on a criminal enterprise of the most serious kind.
“I can accept he did not know how old the helper was beforehand, but it would have been immediately obvious he was elderly.
“Both men believed the item in the bag would do them harm, and you left the helper scared to return to the post office for a long time.
“There should not be an inherent risk to running or working in a post office and staff are entitled to do so without fear of people like Franklin.”
‘This is a nice little village, and we don’t need that’ - Reaction to robber’s sentencing
There was no sympathy for robber Lee Franklin in Mundesley
One businesswoman, who did not wish to be named, said: “We’re all glad he’s been caught. It would be nice for him to serve the full sentence he was given, although I know he won’t.
“Dennis, the post office manager, does not deserve that. He works too hard. This is a nice little village, and we don’t need that.”
Staff at The Village Café in Station Road, who also wished to remain anonymous, added: “There was a lot of shock when it happened, as this is a quiet village.”
A member of staff at a ladies’ charity shop added: “He should get four years. It’s a decent sentence for what he’s done. I’m pleased about that.”
Janice Bishop, who owns the Corner House café, said: “It was such a shock to have that kind of crime in Mundesley. We don’t have crime here. I’m glad he was caught.”
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