A ROBBER has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for a knifepoint raid in which he threatened to stab his own cousin.
Lee Lebiham brandished a knife and then lunged at Mark Redpath before making off with cash from his safe.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that before the 23-year-old raider left the house in Washington, he warned Mr Redpath, who has medical problems, not to contact the police.
During the raid, Lebiham told his cousin he was desperate for cash to pay off a drug dealer.
Lebiham, of Renfrew Road, Sunderland, denied robbery but was found guilty by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court last month.
Mr Recorder Barker told him: “It is clear to me, from listening to the evidence, you targeted Mr Redpath because you thought that he would be a soft touch. This was a vulnerable man in his own home.
“This was a mean offence. You picked on someone you knew was vulnerable and isolated. You no doubt thought no one would believe him.”
The court heard that Mr Redpath was in such a state after the raid that he had to be taken to hospital by ambulance and continues to be affected by his ordeal.
Alec Burns, defending, told the court Lebiham, who has a partner and young child, continues to deny the offence and does not have a drink or drug problem.
Prosecutor Andrew Walker told the court during the trial that Lebiham had turned up at Mr Redpath’s home on September 10 last year in an agitated state, asking for money and a place to stay.
Lebiham took a jar containing £1 coins and threatened to stab his cousin when he objected and tried to stop him.
Mr Walker said: “The defendant approached him again and held the knife up to him and demanded he open a safe in the flat. Inside the safe was a few hundred pounds in cash and, even though he was being threatened with a knife, initially Mr Redpath said no.
“The defendant lunged at him with the knife, and at that point Mr Redpath took the view the defendant was completely out of control.”
Lebiham was arrested after being found hiding in a cupboard at his mother’s house a week later.