A woman addicted to butane gas, robbed a shopkeeper for more supplies after producing a meat cleaver.
Gemma Lynch was clearly already under the influence when she entered Whitechapel Stores in Cleckheaton on June 5 from which she was already barred, Alisha Kaye prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court.
She was staggering about and was repeatedly shouting “whore, whore” and was asked to leave by the shopkeeper Partik Rana. She refused and continued to shout and he asked her again to leave.
At that point she approached the counter and tried to lift the top up but he held on to it and kept it down. She then produced what he described as meat cleaver from her bag and at that he backed away into the store room.
Miss Kaye told the court today that having lifted the counter Lynch went behind it, stole two bottles of alcohol and cans of butane gas before leaving the premises.
The police were informed and because Lynch was known, at that time living only about 100 metres from the shop, they quickly went to her address where they found her out the back of the property trying to climb over a wall to get away.
They found about 20 butane gas canisters in the house but the meat cleaver was not recovered. When she was taken to Huddersfield police station she began kicking out at officers and shouting.
She told them she had mental health problems and was addicted to inhaling the gas and could not remember much of what happened because she was “in a haze.”
Adam Birkby told the court her addiction to butane gas was at the heart of what happened. She had been using it since she was 14 but it had taken hold when she was aged about 26.
“This offence was her having reached the bottom depth of her addiction” and he said had acted as a wake-up call to her making her realise her life was spiralling out of control.
That day she had argued with her partner, had no money to buy a canister and in desperation had gone to the shop intending to steal.
Fortunately the shopkeeper was a resilient man who indicated he had suffered no psychological effect from what had happened and had even expressed concern since for Lynch’s well-being. She was now taking steps towards rehabilitation.
Lynch, 33 of Whitechapel Road, Cleckheaton, admitted robbery and possessing a bladed article.
Jailing her for two years Recorder Simon Jackson QC said she had clearly produced the weapon whether it was a meat cleaver or a knife to ensure she got more gas canisters “to further your habit of solvents having had a long-standing addiction.”
While Mr Rana had shown great fortitude in his attitude shopkeepers in such situations deserved protection from the courts.