Scarborough man lunged at 6ft 11in shopkeeper with knife after trying to steal alcohol

A Scarborough thief lunged at a shopkeeper with a knife after he was caught trying to steal booze from an off-licence in Scarborough.

Liam Watson, 29, was spotted stuffing a box of beers inside his jacket by an eagle-eyed shop worker at the One Stop shop on North Marine Road, York Crown Court heard.

The named victim confronted Watson who gave up the alcohol but threatened him with the blade, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

The 6ft 11in shopkeeper said Watson lunged at him with the knife, causing him to step back.

Liam Watson.

“He was viewing the CCTV in the store with his colleague behind the counter,” said Mr Galley.

“He noticed (Watson) was acting strangely and saw him hide beers inside his jacket. (Watson) walked back along the aisle to the back of the shop and (the victim) emerged from behind the tills.

He said, ‘You have been caught; give me that beer’.”

At this point Watson turned violent, spewing a volley of verbal abuse at the victim before pulling out a knife and lunging at the victim, who noticed the “silver glint” of a blade.

“It’s not clear (from the CCTV footage) how close he got, but it forced (the victim) to step back,” said Mr Galley.

“(Watson) said, ‘What are you going to do now?’”.

Watson was ushered to the door and finally left amid a stream of expletives.

The shop assistant radioed for police who identified Watson, a known criminal, from CCTV footage.

He was arrested in Trafalgar Square where he was taken to ground by an officer.

Watson was searched and was found to have a folding knife on him, along with 3g of cocaine.

The shopkeeper said the incident had deeply affected staff at the convenience store and particularly his female colleague.

Mr Galley said they had suffered “serious alarm” during the incident.

Watson, of Dean Road, Scarborough, was charged with attempted theft, carrying a bladed article, threatening behaviour and possessing a Class A drug.

He admitted the offences and appeared for sentence via video link on Thursday (Nov 25).

The court heard he had previous convictions primarily for theft and violence but also one for carrying a blade.

Other offences included assaults on police officers.

In 2017, he was jailed for four-and-a-half years for attempted wounding and was given an extra six months for possessing a prohibited item in prison.

Sean Smith, mitigating, said Watson had been in care since he was 13 years’ old.

His offending stemmed from his torrid experiences in the care system.

“He took drugs and drink to forget the problems he had,” added Mr Smith.

“That is his life cycle. He knows he will at least be protected from himself in custody.

"Regrettably, Mr Watson doesn’t have any hope going forwards.”

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, said that “anything could have happened” during the knife incident at the shop.

He told Watson: “Children could have been in that shop while you were brandishing that weapon.”

Mr Morris said although Watson vehemently denied lunging at the victim with the knife, he believed the shopkeeper’s account of events and Watson was not a “credible” individual.

He said although Watson’s background was “unfortunate”, he had a bad criminal record and it was his second conviction for carrying a blade, making him liable to a minimum jail term.

Watson was jailed for 18 months, of which he will serve half behind bars before being released on prison licence.