A drunk teenager has been jailed after attempting to hold up his local takeaway with a kitchen knife while demanding free chips.
Matthew Hawkins told staff in a kebab shop in Swansea, south Wales, he would ‘cut’ them if they didn’t hand over the food quickly.
The 19-year-old then went into the neighbouring convenience store where he again brandished the knife and tried to steal items.
Swansea Crown Court heard that, thanks to the quick thinking of those present, Hawkins was barricaded into the shop and detained until armed police arrived.
Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Hawkins and a friend were playing an online video game from their respective homes on June 1.
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During the course of the game a disagreement broke out, with Hawkins becoming abusive and threatening to go to his friend’s house with a knife and beat him up.
The teenager did not carry out that threat, but instead went to local takeaway Yummies Pizza and Kebab House in the Winch Wen area of Swansea.
Mr Jones said that at around 4.45pm Hawkins walked into the Colwyn Avenue takeaway ‘and indicated that he wanted free chips’.
When staff asked why, he replied: ‘Because I said so. I’ve got a knife.’
The court heard a heavily intoxicated Hawkins began shouting aggressively at staff while making ‘stabbing motions’ with a knife, and then banged the weapon on the counter.
Staff tried to placate him and buy time until police arrived by saying he could have chips – but the defendant shouted: ‘I want free chips. Hurry up or I’m going to cut you.’
The terrifying stand-off lasted some 15 minutes before Hawkins walked out saying: ‘I’m going to f*****g rob next door – then I’m coming back for my chips.’
The prosecutor said Hawkins went to the neighbouring Best One shop where he again brandished the knife before picking up items from the shelves, telling staff he was not going to pay for them.
Customers fled the premises, the shopkeeper retreated to a lockable rear room, and the kebab shop worker – who had followed Hawkins out of his takeaway – closed and front door of the store, effectively trapping the would-be robber inside.
Armed police descended on the parade of shops, and found Hawkins banging on the front door, and shouting.
Prosecutors said that when arrested, Hawkins continued shouting: ‘Give me my f*****g chips.’
Mr Jones said it was clear from personal impact statements from the victims that the whole experience had been a very frightening one for them.
Hawkins, of Blaen Cefn in Winch Wen, Swansea, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted robbery and one of possession of a bladed article.
The court heard he has no previous convictions.
Hywel Davies, defending Hawkins, said the defendant, who appeared in court via videolink from HMP Swansea, had learning difficulties and struggled to understand the consequences of actions.
He said the teenager accepted he had to get his consumption of alcohol under control, while a pre-sentence report had identified a need to work on his problem-solving skills and anger management.
Mr Davies added Hawkins had recently been seriously assaulted while being held in custody pending sentence, and there were concerns about him being further targeted by more ‘criminal sophisticated’ inmates because of his vulnerabilities.
Judge Paul Thomas QC told Hawkins he must have ‘frightened the living daylights’ out of his victims by his drunken actions on the day in question.
He said the courts had a duty to protect workers in small businesses who were vulnerable to such attacks.
Judge Thomas said in coming to an appropriate sentence he was taking into account the defendant’s age, what he had read and heard about his personal difficulties, and the extra burden of serving a custodial sentence in the current coronavirus lockdown.
Giving the defendant a one-third credit for his guilty pleas he sentenced him to a total of three years in a young offenders’ institution.
Hawkins will serve up to a half of that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
He was also made the subject of restraining orders banning him from contacting his victims for the next five years.
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