Post office owner left terrified by robber.
A HARD-working postmistress was forced to sell her business and claim benefits after a terrifying armed raid by a shameless robber who splashed out almost PS400 on a designer tracksuit two hours later.
Arrogant Stephen Robertson made off with PS12,000 in the holdup before buying an Armani outfit and trainers on the same day.
The 22-year-old even spent more than PS4,000 on a quad bike and moped the day after threatening staff at Westerhope Post Office with a knife.
But as the brazen thief flashed the cash, his 63-year-old victim's life had been left in tatters.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the postmistress was left so scarred by her ordeal she was never able to open the store again - leaving Westerhope without a post office.
Now Robertson, of Beaconsfield Street, in Arthur's Hill, has been jailed for 10 years after a court heard the victim had been left suffering "extreme panic attacks" from the incident.
Prosecutor Claire Anderson said overnight on September 30 into October 1, 2017, the defendant broke into a shed and stole items including a motorcycle helmet.
The next day he walked into the post office with his face disguised by the orange helmet and threatened staff with a knife.
The court heard two female members of staff were cashing up the day's takings when Robertson jumped on the counter and started shouting "give me the money or I'll stab you up".
He was able to make off with around PS12,000 in cash and an estimated PS2,000 worth of stamps before police arrived on the scene.
Ms Anderson said that, just two hours after the robbery, Robertson went to the JD Sports store at the Metrocentre and bought a PS380 Armani tracksuit and matching Adidas trainers. She told the court: "CCTV showed him removing a wad of cash and counting it out to pay for the items."
The next day he spent more than PS4,000 on a new quad bike and mini Kawasaki moped.
Detectives were able to identify Robertson as the offender after they found the motorcycle helmet in the bushes nearby and discovered his DNA on the chinstrap. He was arrested and charged with robbery but denied any involvement in the raid and said he had paid for the tracksuit, quad bike and moped with money made through drug dealing. However, he was found guilty by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court in December last year.
In a statement read to the court, the postmistress said she had worked all her life dealing with members of the public.
But, she said: "Everything changed when this vile young man came into the post office, held a knife to my throat and threatened to kill me. I was absolutely terrified, I could barely move.
"Ever since, my life has changed completely. I closed the post office that night and have not been able to open up again. I still have flashbacks and suffer from extreme panic attacks.
"I lost my income and had to go on benefits for the first time in my life, which I found humiliating. I hate what this individual has done to me, I used to be a confident and professional businesswoman, now I'm afraid of my own shadow. Three members of staff lost their jobs and Westerhope has lost the use of a vital service."
Sentencing Robertson to 10 years in jail, Judge Sarah Mallett said his victim was a "stoic and very hard-working woman" who now has panic attacks and has suffered a "substantial financial impact" because of his actions.
Westerhope Post Office