Houghton robber jailed after raiding shops to get money for Christmas Presents

A Houghton man raided two shops said he did it so he could buy his daughter Christmas presents.

Hooded and masked John Greenhow wielded a hammer at cashiers across two shops in the face of hours, traumatizing them The first attack happened at a Go Local store, in Houghton-le-Spring, at 4.30pm on December 13 last year.

A female cashier was serving two women when Greenhow entered and headed straight towards her, demanding she “Open the f****** till”. Neil Jones, prosecutor, told Newcastle Crown Court: “He was carrying a large metal hammer and she panicked and was extremely frightened.”

“He used the hammer to smash the till and the monitor connected to it and also smashed some display boxes.” The victim eventually managed to open the till and Greenhow grabbed £200 of notes and fled.

The victim said in a statement read to the court: “I was so scared and every time the door opened I was on edge and if someone came in with a hood up I would get scared. I left my job and since that date I’ve been unable to work. I was having nightmares and every time I closed my eyes I would see this man in front of me.”

Later that night, he went to a Premier store in the Philadelphia area, with another man and was again armed with a hammer. Mr Jones said: “The defendant went straight behind the counter and the worker thought it was a prank at first.

“His perspective rapidly changed when the defendant began shouting at him, raising the hammer, which was above his head. He thought he was going to hit him so he raised his arms to protect

The victim, who was assaulted with punches by Greenhow, who was also swinging the hammer around, and the other man, suffered bruising and swelling to his eye and soreness to his jaw. Greenhow grabbed money from the till and fled.

The shop worker said: “I was incredibly shaken. It left me so scared I had to move away to a different city and I’ve lost out financially due to being off work.”

Greenhow, 42, of Sherburn Grove, Houghton-le-Spring, who has 56 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and was jailed for six years and nine months.

Ellen Wright, defending, said Greenhow had been working in construction, adding: “He was informed he would not be paid for Christmas and this came as a significant blow when he had promised his daughter he would get her some Christmas presents. He didn’t have the money to get her Christmas presents.

“He was panicking and desperate and turned to alcohol, having been clean from alcohol for more than eight years. In an act of desperation and complete stupidity he took the hammer while intoxicated and robbed both stops.

“He is deeply remorseful for his actions and apologises to everyone affected by his behaviour. If he could turn back the clock, he would.

“His mother is extremely ill and because of his actions he will almost certainly not see her again.

“He saved the life of another prisoner who tried to hang themselves.”