VIDEO: Bedminster shop staff fight off knife-wielding robber
SHOP staff who tackled a knife-wielding robber have been commended by a judge for their bravery.
Addict Dean Spiller was so desperate for a fix he stole from his parents before carrying out armed raids on two convenience stores, Bristol Crown Court heard.
But he met his match at Star News and Booze in Bedminster Parade, where Zafar Iqbal grabbed him in a bear hug and shop assistant Madeen Khan clobbered him over the head with a stool.
The dynamic duo, who were captured in action on the store’s closed circuit television system, made a citizen’s arrest as a customer entering the shop scrambled police to the scene.
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Spiller, 32, of Marksbury Road, Bedminster, pleaded guilty to theft, robbery and attempted robbery following the crime spree last month.
Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC commended the store staff, saying they acted with “great bravery”.
Jailing Spiller for four-and-a-half years yesterday, the judge told him: “These were serious offences; robbery of shops, using a knife and terrifying the shop owners.
“In the second one the knife was held against the shop-keeper’s stomach, and they acted very bravely.”
Huw Rogers, prosecuting, said Spiller visited the home of his parents Ken and Wendy when they were away and stole their vacuum cleaner and other electrical equipment.
Four days later, said Mr Rogers, Spiller brandished an 8in to 9in blade to Mutee Rehman, at Premier Stores on Redcliffe Hill, and robbed £300 cash from the till, as well as cigarettes.
The next day a hooded Spiller entered Star News and Booze, put a large blade to Zafar Iqbal’s stomach and screamed: “All the money in the bag quickly or else I’ll kill you.”
Judge Mercer was shown CCTV which captured the moment of the robbery, showing how Mr Iqbal charged at Spiller before Mr Khan rushed to his aid, smashing the stool over Spiller’s head.
In the course of the melee the blade snapped, slicing Mr Khan’s hand, but a customer entering the shop immediately dialled 999 as the robber was wrestled to the floor.
After the case Mr Iqbal, 38, told The Post: “I wasn’t scared at the time because it happened so fast. But afterwards, in my mind I was a bit scared.
“I think the knife touched my body but it didn’t cut me. I was just trying to grab his hand and push it away.
“I was happy Madeen was there to help me.”
Mr Iqbal’s wife Sadia Nosheen, 33, and his son Muhammad Waqas Zafar, five, were horrified when they saw exactly what had happened on the CCTV.
“My family said I should have let him take the money because my life is more valuable and money is not as important,” Mr Iqbal said.
“What the judge said is nice and I’m very happy the robber is in jail now.”
The court heard that at the time of the offences, Spiller was in breach of a one-year suspended sentence for stealing a pensioner’s coin tin containing £100.
Emily Evans, defending, said her client started using cannabis from the age of 19 but peer pressure caused him to move on to taking cocaine and heroin and he became addicted and offended to feed his habit.
Miss Evans said her client had completed drugs rehabilitation, unpaid work and curfews in the past, but relapsed back into drug abuse when he moved home and missed his medication.
She said: “He cooperated fully with the police and expressed remorse in interview.
“He has written apologies to the shop owners.
“He is shocked at the escalation of his offending because of drug addiction.”
Miss Evans said Spiller left school aged 14, without qualifications, and he had signed up to obtain GCSEs and IT skills.