A CONVICTED drug dealer who used an imitation handgun to rob a woman and her teenage daughter as they went on a lunchtime walk in the park has been jailed for over five years.
Morgan Parkinson, of Shuttle Close, Accrington, and a schoolboy accomplice were wearing green cloth masks as they threatened the women, aged 40 and 19, with a cigarette lighter-style imitation weapon before demanding they drop their shopping bags and purses.
At Burnley Crown Court Parkinson admitted robbery and possessing an imitation firearm, as well as two counts of handling stolen vehicles in separate incidents in January 2008.
The younger victim initially wrestled with one of the robbers but gave up after her mother was threatened and pushed over during the Milnshaw Park attack at 1.30pm in September 2007.
Following the boy’s confession, cocaine addict Parkin-son, 25, was arrested in March this year while already serving a nine-month jail sentence for supplying class B drugs.
He had also been jailed for three years in 2003 for dealing class A drugs.
Mr Rick Holland, defending Parkinson, told the court that the amount of violence used was minimal and there was no great conviction in the "amateurish" robbery.
Parkinson saw it as a way of paying off drug debts which put him under "a great deal of pressure" and he took drugs to gain comfort from the pain caused by his mother’s death in December 2006.
Mr Holland said: "This was not a gratuitous offence purely out of spite.
"The passing of his mother had a very profound effect on him and the only saving grace for him was the daily intake of drugs."
But Judge Simon Newell said that the only motivating factor for the robbery was Parkinson’s continued invol-vement in drugs.
He said: "I know full well that this wasn’t a real firearm but it was a good imitation.
"It would cause fear and distress because it was very realistic.
"Unfortunately, in these modern times, the use of firearms is prevalent and death can sometimes occur.
"For a short period of time – it might have only been minutes – these two people would have been in real fear for their lives."
The judge noted the guilty plea but added that the age of Parkinson’s accomplice was also an aggravating factor.
Parkinson was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail for the robbery and three years for the possession of an imitation firearm, to run concurrently, and six months for each handling count to run concurrently with each other, but consecutively with the robbery, making a combined five-and-a-quarter years in jail.