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Video: Devon drifter jailed for terrifying cashpoint knifepoint robbery

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: April 25, 2014

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A DRIFTER has been jailed for two and a half years after a cashpoint knife robbery which left an 18-year-old girl too frightened to go out at night.

Paul Ward armed himself with a knife and walked four miles from a Devon village to the nearest town where he waited by the ATM machine until someone came to use it.

Victim Chloe Gregory was taking out money to give to her mother when she felt a tap on her shoulder and saw Ward with the knife at his side.

He looked over her shoulder at the on screen balance and demanded £100. She pleaded with him to put the knife away and not to harm her and he did so.

Ward was caught after shocking CCTV footage of the robbery was featured on local and national papers and on television.

It showed the shocked teenager being confronted by a man whose face was covered by a scarf and partially hidden by a blue hoodie.

He was a homeless drug addict who was sofa surfing with friends at Filleigh, North Devon and was so desperate for money to buy heroin he walked four miles to carry out the robbery.

Ward, aged 26, whose accommodation address was in Sticklepath, Barnstaple, admitted robbery and having a bladed article and was jailed for two and a half years by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “You had a drifting lifestyle. What happened was out of character but very serious because this happened at a cashpoint at 9pm and the victim was an 18-year-old girl.

“One can only imagine the effect on an 18-year-old girl on her own at night using an ATM and being robbed. It is not surprising she cannot go out on her own and is scared at night.

“It is a substantial aggravating feature that this offence was against a vulnerable 18-year-old using an ATM in an area she thought completely safe.

“South Molton is a nice area of Devon where one would not expect this kind of thing to happen. She will be thinking if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.”

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Miss Gregory was out with friends in South Molton in January when her mother texted her and asked her to withdraw some money for her.

She went on her own to the Lloyds TSB cashpoint at East Street and had just brought up the on screen balance when she saw Ward, who was wearing a scarf over his mouth and hood over his head as disguise.

Miss Gregory sobbed in the public gallery as Mr Richings read out her account of the robbery.

She told the police said: “I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and he told me to take out £100.

"I looked down and saw he was holding a knife in his right hand by his jeans pointing at the floor. I said 'please don't hurt me and he replied 'I won't'.

"I asked him to put it away and he put the knife in his pocket. He seemed in a rush. I withdrew £100 and handed it to him.

"He said 'don't tell anyone. Wait two minutes’."

She went on to tell of the effect on her. She said: “I just feel scared. I don't feel I can go out on my own at night any more. I am scared of seeing him again. I feel very upset."

Mr Sean Brunton, defending, said the offence was an aberration which arose from Ward's unsettled lifestyle which started when he failed his GCSEs.

He said: “He has genuine remorse and wishes to apologise for what he did. One wonders what on earth prompted him to walk four miles from Filleigh to South Molton in desperation for drugs and money."

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