Robber who posed for selfie in his mask is jailed

By Crown Court Reporter in Crime

A knifepoint robber who posed for a selfie in a bandana and hood has been jailed.

Lewis Stewart took a picture of ­himself on his mobile phone before he carried out three terrifying raids in ­Newton Abbot and Dawlish, which left the victims shaking with fear. Police found the picture on his phone after they tracked him down from CCTV at two garages where he used a stolen bank card to buy petrol.

Cocaine user Stewart carried out the robberies because he was desperate for money to pay off drug debts, Exeter Crown Court was told.

The first two happened within 40 minutes of each other on Newton Abbot quay and the third was a day later on The Strand in Dawlish, where he attacked a cleaner who was walking home in the early hours.

He stole a phone, bank cards and the keys to the Betfred bookmaker’s shop which the cleaner was carrying.

Stewart, aged 21, of St Patrick’s Close, Teignmouth, admitted three robberies and was jailed for a total of three years and six months by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC.

He told him the offences were particularly serious because the fear which he had caused to the three victims.

Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said the first two robberies happened on the night of September 6 last year in Newton Abbot.

The first victim was walking to work at 9.45pm when he was confronted by a hooded figure, wearing a bandana over his face, who threatened him with a knife.

CCTV caught an image of him with a knife with a blade of about five inches which he held in front of him as he demanded cash. The first victim handed over his mobile phone and later told police he was ‘petrified’.

Stewart struck again about 30 to 45 minutes later when he intercepted a man who was walking home from the gym. Stewart ran past him and then turned with a short knife in his hand.

He demanded money but the victim did not have any and instead handed over a Lloyds Bank card, which Stewart and a female friend used twice in garages before he was arrested at her home in Torquay.

The third robbery was in the early hours of September 8 when the victim had just locked up after cleaning at Betfred. Stewart demanded money but ended up taking the shop keys.

He and the woman were traced to her bedsit in Salisbury Road, Torquay, and he was arrested the next day, trying to escape out of a back door and throwing away the keys as he ran.

Two knives were found in the woman’s car and the stolen bank card and phone at the bedsit, alongside Stewart’s own phone.

Mr Barnes said: ‘Clothing was found which matched that worn in the first two robberies and on the mobile phone was a selfie showing him dressed as he was for those two offences.

‘He denied involvement and claimed to have an alibi, but this did not match the cell site analysis of where he had used his phone.’

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Stewart has a history of autism and has been receiving help with mental health issues. He has no convictions for similar offences.

He said he carried out the robberies to service debts but is keen to address his substance abuse when he leaves prison.