Robber used garden fork, axe and knife during terrifying raids
- Credit: Archant
A court has heard harrowing details of the terror felt by victims of a man who 'carried out a campaign of violent robberies' in Norwich.
Shaun Hayes, 28, used a garden fork and an axe as he targeted three convenience stores over a nine-day period during which time he also stabbed a taxi driver three times in the abdomen with a Stanley knife before stealing his day's takings.
Hayes took a garden fork into Just News and Convenience shop on Nelson Street at about 6.30pm on March 5 this year and used it to threaten the female student working in the store.
Chris Youell, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said: "He said 'give me the money or I will stab you and destroy everything in the shop.'"
Hayes got away with £450 from the till before a second robbery at the One Stop shop on Woodcock Road, a week later on March 12. He and another offender, who has not been identified, entered the store before threatening the female staff members.
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One man had a knife and threatened to stab one of the workers who Mr Youell said threw money from till to the raiders.
Hayes, who had an axe, "held it above the head" of one of the victims before they left with about £300 in cash.
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Hayes dumped the axe in a bin outside as he left but traces of his DNA were later found on it by police.
He then carried out a third robbery two days later when he held up Waterloo Food and Wine shop in Waterloo Road.
Again he threatened to stab the shop worker with a garden fork.
Mr Youell said the shop worker grabbed hold of the fork and bravely "tried to wrestle it from him".
The shopkeeper managed to grab the fork but a second man came in and they stole £1,285 worth of tobacco.
Finally, on March 31, Hayes robbed a taxi driver, who had just dropped off a fare in George Pope Road.
Hayes approached the driver, who is in his 50s, and then threatened him with a Stanley knife which he used to stab him three times in the abdomen before making him hand over the day's takings.
The taxi driver, who had to have time off work following the incident, was taken to A&E after the incident where he was treated.
Victim impact statements were read out in court describing the terrifying affect the incidents have had on them all.
The customer assistant at Just News on Nelson Street said it had just been a normal day until she was threatened with a garden fork.
She said: "I recall him threatening to stab me with it and have never felt so scared in all my life, I was terrified."
The victim said was the "first time I ever feared for my life" and described it as "the most terrifying experience I have ever been through".
She now feels "very anxious and no longer trust people" and fears this will happen again.
The victim said she now struggles to sleep, has nightmares and described how it has changed her from a carefree girl to someone who is now anxious, scared and untrusting towards others.
Meanwhile the owner of Waterloo Food and Wine described how he and his wife are considering moving on because of the affect it has had on the couple and their children.
He said: "My wife and I are currently considering selling and moving on all because of how these men have made us feel, we no longer feel safe in our home and running our business."
Hayes, of Penn Grove, Norwich appeared in court to be sentenced on Wednesday (June 19) having previously admitted four counts of robbery.
Judge Stephen Holt assessed Hayes as "dangerous" and passed an extended 16 year sentence, made up of 12 years custody and four years extended licence.
He said Hayes "carried out a campaign of violent robberies against small shops on three occasions and against a taxi driver on the last occasion".
He said each of the victims were "terrified" as a result of being targeted by Hayes. He said: "Those who run small shops in the evening and into the night provide a very useful service to members of the public are very vulnerable in my view.
"Those who drive taxis are also very vulnerable, particularly at night. They work alone and it's quite clear to me that your victims were targeted because of their vulnerability."
David Stewart, mitigating, said Hayes' pleas were his strongest mitigation and expressed "some kind of remorse".
Violent robberies had terrifying impact on victims
Victims have revealed the terrifying impact a string of violent robberies have had on them.
A customer service assistant at One Stop Shop on Woodcock Road, raided on March 12, said she has changed since "the most terrifying incident I've ever experienced".
She has had to have counselling and is now looking for other employment as she "needs a job where I feel safe and don't have to look over my shoulder fearing this would happen again".'
Her colleague said she has "never felt fear like it" and had only seen "violence like this on television and would never imagine going to work and being threatened with an axe".
The taxi driver who was stabbed said he felt shocked when "the realisation of what had just happened sunk in".
He said the incident has had an impact on his family with his wife "fearing" it will happen again and his son "extremely angry" about what happened.