Former Sunderland soldier threatened worker with fake explosive

Alan Kirby
Alan Kirby
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A BALACLAVA-WEARING former soldier who threatened a garage worker with a fake explosive, was caught after leaving identification on a petrol pump.

Alan Kirby made the threat at the Esso garage on Durham Road, Sunderland, with a detergent bottle and some wires he took off an old computer.

The 32-year-old stole two bottles of spirits and some cigarettes from the garage on January 4, but was caught after leaving his passport and birth certificate behind.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Kirby had served in the armed forces for five years before leaving and becoming “desperate” for money when his benefits were stopped.

Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said: “The defendant approached the service station and held out the detergent bottle. The worker told him he could not fill that up.

“The defendant told him it was an explosive device and he has served in the SAS.

“The worker went back into the premises, followed by the defendant who stole two bottles of spirits and some cigarettes.

“He left his passport at the petrol pump which led to him being identified.

“In his statement, he said his benefits had stopped causing him to be desperate and describes his actions to be insane.”

The court heard how Kirby had previously been convicted of a sexual assault, in which he approached members of staff in a store and complimented their feet before touching them.

Vic Laffey, defending, said: “He presents as a reasonable man. He has in the past served in the army in Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland. He has been diagnosed by his GP with post traumatic stress disorder, but plays it down. He does feel he’s probably masked it with alcohol and drugs over the years.

“During the course of the day, he had spent all day trying to organise his benefits. He was assured it would be in his bank account that night, but when he went to the bank he had 62p, and he snapped.

“He accepts that he was wearing a disguise. He thought the garage would have some money, but then when he had the opportunity to take money, he didn’t take it.

“He had been struggling with himself and how to cope with how his life is going in general.”

Kirby, of Riversdale Terrace, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to robbery.

Judge Guy Whitburn sentenced Kirby to four years in prison and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

He said: “This was a planned robbery of a petrol station in which you took with you a home-made weapon.

“You were disguised and pretended you had an explosive device. You helped yourself to some alcohol and cigarettes. Why you did it is very difficult to work out.”