An armed robber was branded a “coward” by a judge as she jailed him for more than four years this afternoon (Monday 21 December) at Lewes Crown Court.
Daniel O’Callaghan, 28, of no fixed address, robbed Goziaf Sulasal at knifepoint at Cudo’s Convenience Store, in Upper North Street, Brighton, on the corner of Dean Street, in September.
O’Callaghan, formerly of Glenwood Lodge, in Grand Parade, Brighton, was wearing a blue surgical face mask.
Less than hour later O’Callaghan also tried to rob Youssef Saleh at the Wine and Beer Store, in Norfolk Square, Brighton, armed with a knife again.
He demanded drink and money but he was startled by a noise outside and ran away.
Judge Janet Waddicor said: “A noise happened which frightened you and, coward that you are, you scarpered, leaving behind your bag.”
The judge said that when he held up Mr Sulasal, stealing alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and cash, he threatened to return and “close this shop”.
After watching security camera footage, Judge Waddicor said: “He was obviously terrified by what happened to him, exacerbated by your parting shot.”
The police recognised O’Callaghan because, the judge said, “you are a prolific offender.” He also had a distinctive tattoo on his neck.
A week after the robbery, Sussex Police released a still picture from the security camera footage and it was published by local news media, including Brighton and Hove News.
Later the same day O’Callaghan was located and arrested. He had a knuckleduster and a small amount of cannabis on him.
Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, asked for a forfeiture and destruction order for the weapon and drugs.
Rachel Lancaster, defending, said: “His behaviour is out of character.”
But Judge Waddicor said: “I don’t think it’s out of character. He’s been round the block before with offensive weapons.”
For example, O’Callaghan had previous convictions for having a metal bar as a weapon and a machete, the court was told.
Miss Lancaster said: “He was homeless at the time. He’s lost his job as a roofer and the driver was that he was taking benzodiazepines. He told me that, frankly, they have ruined his life.”
Judge Waddicor said: “You went out, it seems to me, deliberately arming yourself with a knife to get what you wanted by putting shopkeepers in fear of their life.”
He checked out Cudo’s – also known as Your Friendly Shop – before returning, wearing the mask and wielding a knife, at about 6pm on Tuesday 8 September. He told Mr Sulasal to hand over drink, cigarettes and cash.
The judge said: “He was very frightened. He could be seen backing away from you and giving what you asked for.”
Less than hour later O’Callaghan tried to rob the Wine and Beer Store, formerly known as the Wine Library.
Judge Waddicor said: “These offences are serious. They target vulnerable people and they cause widespread alarm in the community.”
She told O’Callaghan that his drink and drug problems were no excuse.
O’Callaghan, who previously lived in George William Mews, Portslade, and Westview Close, Peacehaven, was jailed for four years and eight months in total.
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