A shopkeeper has spoken of her terror after becoming the victim of a raider who handed her a note saying ‘I’ve got AIDS, give me your money’.
Drug addict Phillip O’Dea, 34, who was later found to be carrying a used needle, was jailed at Burnley Crown Court for eight years for a spate of crimes.
Victim Lisa Milburn told the Observer she was left terrified when O’Dea burst into the Extreme Clothing shop in Accrington. She said that he pushed her away from the counter and tried to flee with £150 before being overpowered by passers-by. The night before O’Dea robbed and attacked a woman who was sat in her car with her nine-months pregnant daughter after using a cash machine. He also handed the woman a note which this time read ‘I have got AIDS, I am dying, I am desperate, give me the purse’.
O’Dea, of Stanley Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to robbery, attempted robbery, possession of an offensive weapon in a public place and theft from Tesco. He also pleaded guilty to six other thefts and four burglaries involving a college and a nursery.
After the court hearing, Mrs Milburn, who has run her shop on Water Street for 22 years, said: “I had my head down doing some paperwork and as I looked up I thought ‘Oh my word’.
Mrs Milburn, 44, said she tried to close the front door and scream for help but he managed to overpower her and flee with around £150.
She added: “He just stared at me and handed me this piece of paper. There was a few lines of words on it but I remember one part saying ‘I’ve got AIDS, give me your money’.
“He then pushed me away from the till and trashed the desk and as he was getting the till open I dashed to the door. I pulled it as tight as I could and dug my feet into the ground and screamed for help.”
She said: “I was on my own and I just crumbled after he left. I have never had anything like this happen before.”
Passers-by managed to detain O’Dea before he fled leaving items of clothing and a coat with a used needle.
Mrs Milburn said the robbery, which took place on Thursday, February 7, left her a ‘mess’ and she was ‘really shook up and anxious’.
The court heard that his earlier victim had been sitting in a car on Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, having been to the Lloyds TSB ATM, when O’Dea opened the door demanding money and lunged at her with a four-inch knife. He also punched her in the face.
Burnley Crown Court was told how the woman then elbowed O’Dea in the chest to protect her daughter who was ‘hysterical and crying’.
She punched him several times before he then fled and the court heard how the women were left ‘absolutely terrified’.
John Woodward, defending, said O’Dea was ‘chronically addicted’ to drugs and was ‘deeply ashamed and sorry’ for the offences.
He told the court: “His best and perhaps only mitigation is his frankness with the police. He came clean and accepted everything that he had done.”
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said O’Dea’s offences were ‘premeditated and sustained’ and that he was a ‘dangerous offender’.
She jailed him for eight years with a further three years on extended licence.
She also described the woman as ‘very brave’ for fending off
the robber and protecting her daughter.
She said: “The memory of this is going to live with these ladies for a long time. Once you want money for drugs you only think of you.”