Bungled robber from Darlington wanted to be jailed as he was homeless

The Northern Echo: Army experience: John Abbott Army experience: John Abbott

A WOULD-BE robber got more than he bargained for when the shopkeeper he threatened turned out to be a former sergeant major with 25 years’ Army experience.

Stuart Curtis was met with a punch in the face when he demanded John Abbott emptied his till of all its contents after claiming he had a gun.

Curtis, 21, then swung a punch at the 61-year-old shopkeeper, who has served in Northern Ireland and Germany, but missed and he ran off.

Police arrested him a short time later riding a stolen bicycle he used to make his getaway.

Mr Abbott, who has run Milbank News, in Pierremont Crescent, Darlington, for the past 20 years, said: “I wasn’t scared, I am ex-Army – I don’t stand for any rubbish.

“It is my money and we work long hours to get this money so I’m not going to give it to someone who isn’t legally entitled to it.”

Teesside Crown Court heard Curtis walked straight up to the shop’s counter at about 1.30pm on January 29 this year with his left hand in his jacket pocket, claiming he had a gun.

Father-of-four, Mr Abbott, swore at Curtis before punching him to the left side of his face.

“It was the fact that he said he had a weapon that made it worse," he told The Northern Echo. "But if he had come and not said that he would have got the same reaction.

“I had to punch him with my left hand, because the chewing gum stand was in the way of my right hand!”

Curtis, of no fixed abode, who admitted attempted robbery, had previous convictions for shop theft along with offences such as dishonesty and criminal damage.

Ben Pegman, mitigating at Teesside Crown Court, said Curtis did not have a gun and “would not have the wherewith all to get one”.

He said: “This was a bungled attempt at a robbery, amateur in its execution with no pre-planning or thought as to how he would carry it out.”

Mr Pegman said Curtis was in a desperate situation and began committing offences in order that he would be imprisoned as an alternative to being on the streets.

Jailing him for two years, Recorder Toby Hedworth said Mr Abbott did not know whether Curtis had a weapon.

He said: “He is clearly a man of considerable resolve and his immediate reaction was to strike out at you to prevent you drawing what he genuinely believed was a gun in your pocket.

“Unfortunately he is now in a situation where his family are wanting him to retire all because he had the temerity to stand up for himself in his own business premises.”

 

Comments (7)

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8:29am Mon 17 Feb 14

oliviaden6 says...

One up for the GOOD GUY's.
One up for the GOOD GUY's. oliviaden6

9:48am Mon 17 Feb 14

MSG says...

Brave man. Well done!

As for the lad. put him on an army boot camp to learn about respect.
Brave man. Well done! As for the lad. put him on an army boot camp to learn about respect. MSG

10:08am Mon 17 Feb 14

pager11 says...

He will be another druggie in this once decent town, its like fraggle rock.
He will be another druggie in this once decent town, its like fraggle rock. pager11

10:36am Mon 17 Feb 14

darlolad1978 says...

How can you remotely say its like fraggle rock..fraggles have morals and always singing and dancing having a great time then you have the doozers (builders) who are always working :)
How can you remotely say its like fraggle rock..fraggles have morals and always singing and dancing having a great time then you have the doozers (builders) who are always working :) darlolad1978

12:18pm Mon 17 Feb 14

DeanSly says...

Been working at that shop for 10 years and still going, and known John Abbott for the same amount of time.

I saw the CCTV of this event actually, it was hilarious! The ploke was just a ginger standard chav, and he looked very nervous and ran out the shop after a total failure.


I would of been there normally at the time of the incident, but i tokk extra time at college, talk about timing.

John Abbott is a big ploke, i know i wouldn't want to try and rob him. glad i work under him :)
Been working at that shop for 10 years and still going, and known John Abbott for the same amount of time. I saw the CCTV of this event actually, it was hilarious! The ploke was just a ginger standard chav, and he looked very nervous and ran out the shop after a total failure. I would of been there normally at the time of the incident, but i tokk extra time at college, talk about timing. John Abbott is a big ploke, i know i wouldn't want to try and rob him. glad i work under him :) DeanSly

12:42pm Mon 17 Feb 14

louisewilson55 says...

Well done John!
Well done John! louisewilson55

2:35pm Mon 17 Feb 14

Homshaw1 says...

My friend has a shop in Darlington. He has been attacked by a guy with a machete and had a wine bottle broken over his head. Shop lifting is a daily occurrence.

I won't care if he made a decent living. The family's concerns could be justified
My friend has a shop in Darlington. He has been attacked by a guy with a machete and had a wine bottle broken over his head. Shop lifting is a daily occurrence. I won't care if he made a decent living. The family's concerns could be justified Homshaw1

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