Southwick robber beat up security guard and smashed can off his head in attempt to shoplift lager from B&M

A security guard needed hospital treatment after a thief violently attacked him in the attempt to shoplift a pack of lager.

Liam Rolfe, 30 repeatedly punched the worker at the B&M store in Southwick, Sunderland, threw a full can off the back of his head, attempted to bite his eye, poked his finger in his eye and threatened to kill him. Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim had to be taken to hospital and needed seven stitches to a split scalp after the attack.

Prosecutor Rachael Glover told the court Rolfe had gone into the store, from which he was already banned for shoplifting, on October 3 last year and was told to leave by the guard. But Rolfe then picked up a ten-pack of lager and told him: “I’m going to have one of these.”

As the security guard attempted to stop him, Miss Glover said a violent struggle broke out between the two. She told the court: “The defendant punched him to the head and picked up cans from the floor then threw more punches to the complainant.

“The defendant then picked up two cans of lager and threw them at him but fortunately missed. The complainant said the defendant told him ‘I’m going to have you’ and continued to swing more punches before he picked up a third can and hit him on the back of the head, which hit so hard it caused the can to split, dealing a serious injury to his head.

“When on the floor, the complainant said the defendant tried to bit his ear and push his finger into his eye.”

The court heard as Rolfe left the shop he warned the injured security guard: “I’m coming back at six o’clock to f***ing kill you’.” Rolfe, 30, of no fixed address, was arrested a month later and a knife dropped out of his sleeve when he was searched.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and having a bladed article. The court heard Rolfe has a criminal record and has already served prison sentences in the past for robberies. Judge Julie Clemitson said Rolfe poses “a risk to other people” and sentenced him to four years behind bars with a two-year extended licence period.

The judge told him: “He was a security guard carrying out his job, which requires him to work with members of the public and was assaulted in the course of those duties. You went to considerable effort and considerable violence just to steal a pack of lager.”

Matthew Hopkins, defending, said the robbery was unplanned and added: “This was shoplifting which escalated when he was challenged. It was an impulsive decision to use violence after he was challenged.” Mr Hopkins said Rolfe “struggles to control his emotions” and turned to alcohol and drugs to cope.