Halifax shopkeeper terrorised in store raid

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A dangerous criminal has been jailed for six years after a Halifax shopkeeper was terrorised during an early hours raid at his store.

Zaffer Iqbal had been sleeping in the flat above the Parkinson Lane News premises last October when Thomas Diamond and an accomplice broke in through a bathroom window and confronted the shopkeeper in his bedroom.

Diamond, 24, of Moorcroft Avenue, Golcar, had only been out of prison for a few months when he took part in the robbery which left the shopkeeper traumatised and suffering flashbacks.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (Wednesday) that Diamond’s accomplice, who had not been caught, was the prime mover behind the offence which netted the raiders £4000 worth of cigarettes, £300 in cash and other property.

Prosecutor Robert Galley said the intruders were shining a torch from a mobile phone in the victim’s face and told him:”Don’t scream we are here to rob you.”

The court heard how the accomplice was searching drawers and throwing items around while the complainant stayed on the bed with a duvet over him.

During the raid Diamond put a towel over his face, but it was later seized by police and found to have his DNA on it.

Mr Iqbal was told he would be killed if he didn’t stay put and a knife was brandished as one of the men threatened to chop his finger off.

The knife was handed to Diamond, who was told to keep an eye on Mr Iqbal and he told the shopkeeper:”Don’t scream no one will hear you.”

The intruders were heard speaking to a third party on a mobile phone and they eventually left the shop telling the complainant not to contact the police or they would come back.

After his arrest Diamond denied involvement in the robbery, but the court that he had been jailed for four years in 2011 for an attempted shop robbery involving an imitation gun and a burglary.

Earlier this month Diamond finally admitted robbing Mr Iqbal and today he was jailed for six years and made subject to an extended licence period of three years.

Diamond will now have to serve at least two-thirds f the six-year term before the Parole Board assess whether he is safe to release.

Judge David Hatton QC said he was satisfied that Diamond posed a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public bearing in mind the latest offence and his previous conviction.

Barrister Elyas Patel, for Diamond, said it was stating the obvious to say that the robbery was a wicked offence and the appalling trauma and upset caused to the unfortunate victim was considerable.

He said his client was not the prime mover in the offence and although a weapon had been picked up at the scene no actual violence was used during the raid.

Mr Patel said it was an indication that Diamond was “out of his depth” that he had used the towel which had his DNA on it.

Judge Hatton said although Diamond may not have been aware that the premises were occupied when they broke in it was apparent that they were and it had not deterred him.

“The occupant was asleep in his bed in the living quarters when you and your colleague attacked him and thereafter terrorised him,” said the judge.

“I accept that violence was not in fact inflicted, but he was very severely threatened and that included being threatened with a knife.

“The events of those minutes in the early hours of the 11th of October have had a deep and profound effect, not unnaturally, on your victim.”