Man jailed after threatening pizza delivery driver with imitation pistol

Alan Lawrence

Alan Lawrence

A man who threatened a pizza delivery driver with an imitation pistol has been jailed for more than four years.

Alan Lawrence and an accomplice lured their victim to a street in Seaham by ordering food using a mobile phone, Durham Crown Court heard.

"The order was to be delivered in Margaret Street,” said Martin Towers, prosecuting. "When the driver arrived, he rang the mobile number and was told to wait.

"Two men approached, the driver could see the taller of the two was holding a small black handgun.

"The gun was pointed at him, and one of the men said: 'I know you have money'.

"The victim put his hand in his pocket and threw a roll of notes on the ground.

"One of the men said to take the car, while the other was still pointing the gun."

The court heard the victim fled on foot.

"He had the keys to his car in his hand," added Mr Towers. "The man was still pointing the gun, and the victim shouted at him: 'I’ve got cancer'.

"The victim managed to run home and call the police."

The court was told mobile phone records led detectives to a house in Long Newton Street in Seaham.

"That is the home of a woman and another man who is still on bail in connection with this inquiry," said Mr Towers.

"The woman told police the defendant had arrived at her home on the night of the robbery, and had gone to her bathroom.

"Police recovered what they describe as a realistic looking replica gun from behind the bath panel.

"Food packaging matching that used by the shop was found in the back yard of the property."

Lawrence, 26, of Fox Street, Seaham, admitted robbery, and using an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, both on May 4.

He has previous conviction for 66 offences.

Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Lawrence has made the brave decision to plead guilty today, knowing that a lengthy period of custody will follow.

"His plea has saved the witness the ordeal of coming to court, and he tells me this is the first time he feels some understanding of the effect of his actions.

"Mr Lawrence is keen to take part in the restorative justice programme so he can tell the victim how sorry he is."

The Recorder, Mr Euan Duff, jailed Lawrence for four years and four months.

The recorder told him: "It is not clear which of you carried the gun, but it makes no difference, you bear equal responsibility for what happened.

"This may not have been a sophisticated offence, but it was a planned and determined one.

"What you did to this victim would have been an utterly terrifying experience for anyone."

The imitation firearm was confiscated and will be destroyed.