A knife-wielding robber has been jailed for 12 years after terrorising a lone female shop worker and then brandishing the weapon inside a Mexican restaurant in front of terrified families and children.
Paul Senior, 31, from Scarborough, walked into a Sainsbury’s store wearing a hood, but then removed it and pulled out a knife, screaming: “Everybody out!”
He headed straight for a till manned by a female shop assistant who was terrified at the sight of the four-inch blade, York Crown Court heard.
Senior told her to empty the till, but the system jammed, said prosecutor Carmel Pearson.
Still wielding the knife, Senior walked around the back of the till, opened it and snatched all £594 inside, at which point a customer came into the store on Ramshill Road and threw a bottle at him.
Senior ran off and police were called. Officers checked the store’s CCTV and instantly identified him.
The footage showed him walking in the direction of South Cliff and police launched a manhunt.
In fact, the crazed robber had walked into El Gringo’s Mexican restaurant in the Esplanade, again taking his hood off and chatting to staff before ordering an alcoholic beverage.
Senior was sat in the bar, having a drink, next to families and children trying on Sombreros and cowboy hats, when a police car pulled up outside the restaurant.
A female officer spotted him through the window and walked up to him in the bar. She asked him to identify himself, but he gave a false name.
Suddenly, he whipped out his knife and went into the dining area with the blade “held outwards”.
“He was walking towards packed tables,” said Ms Pearson. “He was walking around the restaurant waving the knife around.
“The customers were all running from the restaurant. The staff managed to get some of them out of the emergency exit. Two other (customers) were trapped.”
As panic gripped the room, the lone police officer stood her ground, telling everyone to get out. She radioed for back-up while trying to get Senior to drop the knife, but he refused.
Two more officers arrived and tried to disarm Senior, but they finally had to Taser him. Senior picked up a chair to protect himself from the electric stun gun, but he was overpowered, taken to ground and cuffed.
Senior, of Holbeck Road, gave officers a sob story about being an alcoholic and that he “just wanted to go to prison to get the help he needed”.
He was charged with robbery, affray and possessing a knife in public. He admitted all charges, as well as breaching previous court orders, and appeared for sentence via video link on Friday.
In a victim statement, the female shop assistant said she was terrified when Senior took his hood off because “it made her think he didn’t care about getting caught” during the incident at about 5.10pm on November 11.
“She can’t sleep because she thinks about him and the knife every time she closes her eyes,” said Ms Pearson.
She had since sought medical help and counselling and felt “resentful that now she doesn’t like her job and feels intimidated to be in the shop on her own”.
The police officer who was the first to confront Senior in the restaurant was also “terribly traumatised” and suffered flashbacks.
Senior had a track record for robbing lone females and received long jail sentences in 2004 and 2008 for attacking three women in separate incidents in which he knocked them to the ground and snatched their bags.
Just eight days before the shocking incidents on Armistice Day, he was given a community punishment for theft, being drunk and disorderly and threatening behaviour.
Julian White, for Senior, conceded there was little mitigation for the “harrowing, shocking, appalling” events of November 11.
But judge Simon Hickey branded Senior a danger to lone women and said they must be protected by a swingeing sentence.
Jailing Senior for nine years with an extended three-year period on licence, Mr Hickey said he would have to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence behind bars and would only be released when the Parole Board deemed it safe to do so.