An armed robber who put on a theatrical mask to take cash and cigarettes from a Maple Cross convenience store was jailed for four and a half years on April 13.
Francis Afonso, 37, from Amersham, walked into McColl’s in Chalfont Road at 8pm dressed in a high-vis orange jacket and wearing the mask.
St Albans Crown Court heard he asked a schoolgirl who was being served: “What are you looking at?”
Prosecutor James Marsden said Afonso ordered the 18-year-old male assistant to open the tills. He took out the machete saying: “Do you think I am joking?” and “You have five seconds to open the safe.”
Another member of staff, the schoolgirl and other shoppers fled the shop and dialled 999.
The safe was empty so Afonso took notes and coins from one till. He cut a second till free and placed it under his arm and then told the assistant to pass him “fags”.
He escaped with £1,053 in cash and £2,380.70 worth of tobacco. The cost of the till was £200, said Mr Marsden.
The assistant ran to the back of the store and hid until the police arrived. In a victim impact statement he said the weapon was frightening and he believed Afonso would use it unless he did what he said. He said: “I am only 18 and do not believe I will forget the incident.”
An automatic number plate recognition camera picked Afonso driving on the A412 at Denham at 8.22pm on January 3 this year.
The same car had been seen on ANPR on that road on December 30 – something the prosecutor said could have been him “casing” the shop.
A DNA swab taken from a black bag found near the shop also matched Afonso.
Afonso, of Quarrendon Road, Amersham was arrested in the kitchen at his home on January 9. Two masks and some tobacco were found.
He pleaded guilty to robbery and threatening with an offensive weapon. The prosecutor said his not guilty pleas to robbing the Co-op in Bovingdon High Street was accepted. He had previous convictions for theft, dishonesty and non-domestic burglary.
Defending, Daniel Murray said: “It is a sad situation. He is ashamed of what he did.”
He said his mother became ill and had gone to Spain for treatment but was not improving.
Mr Afonso said: “He began abusing drugs again and his partner threw him out. He became more invovled in crack cocaine and owed dealers £10,000.”
Recorder Peter Rouch QC told him: “The person behind the till must have been terrified by what you did. Your family problems and drug abuse are no excuse.”
Afonso said: “Sorry” as he left the dock.