February 28, 2020 3.56 pm This story is over 20 months old

Former soldier held terrified Grantham pharmacy customer at knife-point

He had already been charged with two armed robberies

A former soldier held a woman at knife-point in a raid on a pharmacy, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Friday, February 28.

He carried out the frightening incident while he was on bail for two other knife-point robberies.

James Barton walked into the Well Pharmacy in Hornsby Road, Grantham, brandishing a knife and demanding drugs.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said that Barton grabbed the female customer in a headlock and held the knife to her neck, demanding that staff follow his orders.

Mr Scott said: “He had a hood over his head and his face was covered by what looked like a scarf.

“The relief manager was serving a customer at the time and had her back to him. When she turned round to the counter she saw the defendant was holding a carrier bag and had a knife.

“He said he wanted all the opiates in the bag. He then grabbed the customer in a headlock and held the knife to her face.

“He said to the relief manager that she had 10 seconds to act or he would stab the customer.”

The member of staff opened the safe and as she was putting drugs inside Barton held the knife against the customer’s neck saying, “you’ve got 10 seconds or I’ll stab you.”

The “petrified” worker filled the bag with tablets which Barton grabbed and then ran out of the premises.

Later the same day police traced Barton and arrested him.

Mr Scott said the customer feared she was going to be killed by Barton and has since suffered nightmares. The staff member was also badly affected by what happened.

When Barton was interviewed by police he said he had been in a meeting with his support worker. He said he had been drinking vodka and had no knowledge of the robbery.

The court was told that Barton was on court bail at the time after being charged with two knife robberies of The Crescent stores in his home village of Leasingham.

When he was interviewed about those matters he told police he had been drinking for several days and had no memory of what happened.

Mr Scott told the court: “He admitted he had an issue with alcohol. He said he drank to self-medicate for the trauma he suffered as a result of events he witnessed while on active service.

“He said he didn’t get help for post traumatic stress disorder and turned to drink.”

Mr Scott said that Barton carried out the two robberies in Leasingham within 24 hours of each other. On the first occasion he threatened staff with a knife before taking a bottle of vodka.

The following morning he returned and walked into the staff area behind the counter. During the incident that followed he brandished a 15-inch long knife telling the staff member, “you try to stop me and I’ll hurt you.” He then made off with two bottles of vodka.

James Barton, 36, of Dean Close, Leasingham, admitted robbery and two charges of threatening a person with a blade at Wells Pharmacy in Grantham as a result of the incident on December 19.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery at The Crescent Store in St Andrews Crescent, Leasingham in November and two linked charges of threatening a person with a blade. He also admitted two charges of theft of vodka from the same shop on earlier occasions.

Recorder Graham Huston adjourned sentence for further reports to assess what danger Barton poses.

Barton was remanded in custody until April 3.

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