A family, who were ‘terrified’ when their Leeds shop was subject to an armed-attacked last year, have described the sentencing of their assailant as ‘justice’ served.
38-year-old Jonathan Kear was handed a six year prison sentence last week for theft at Neil’s Store, in Kirkstall, Leeds, on 28th October 2013.
The store’s owners, Mr Thakor Patel, 74, and his wife Dhaniben, 73, were in the back with their daughter-in-law, Vilas, at the time when Kear came through the doors with hammer in hand.
After threatening the family members with his weapon, he escaped with bottles of spirits and cigarettes from behind the counter.
Three days later, Kear returned to the store to buy some sweets for children on Halloween and within half an hour of leaving the premises he was arrested by West Yorkshire police.
Mr Patel says he was relieved to see Kear detained by police and explained how he was caught so soon.
“It was very good to see him arrested,” he explained. “We have been here for more than 40 years and never had an incident like this so it was all a strange experience.
“After the first attack the police installed a panic alarm behind the counter so when Jonathan came back my daughter-in-law pushed it and within three minutes there were three police cars here.”
He added: “We told him during the attack that ‘we know who you are’ because his only disguise was a pair of sunglasses. To see him come into the store so soon after was just stupid.”
Kear was described as a ‘regular customer’ by the store’s owners and had previously never caused a problem.
Vilas Patel, 50, added that she had never experienced anything like it before.
“We came out from the sitting room to see him stood there shouting at us, telling us not to move or he will hit us with the hammer,” she explained.
“My mother-in-law could not sleep for two days after the incident so to see him get handed a six-year sentence and a restraining order from the store is something we are pleased to hear.”
The family’s co-operation with police was also praised by Investigating Officer PC Mark Lynam.
He said: “This was a targeted attack on a local store which the suspect frequently visited.
“The victims of this crime are elderly upstanding members of the community who have run their shop since 1971 without being subjected to crime.
“Mr Patel and his family have been excellent witnesses and were crucial in facilitating a prosecution in this case.”