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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Barrow dad punched shopkeeper during cigarettes theft

A SHOPKEEPER was punched in the face after tackling a burglar.

Barrow man Rhys Eaton went into Greengate Street News on Sunday afternoon after an argument with his girlfriend.

The 20-year-old, who had drunk a litre of whisky before, attempted to steal cigarettes from the shop before punching the shopkeeper.

The attack on owner Brian Simpson happened in front a 14-year boy, who was left distressed by the ordeal.

Mr John Appleby, prosecuting, told Furness Magistrates’ Court yesterday(Mon) the victim was working behind the counter at around 12.50pm when he went outside and noticed a man, who turned out to be Eaton.

Mr Appleby said the defendant went into the shop, went behind the counter and took seven packets of cigarettes.

Mr Simpson tried to stop Eaton and they had a struggle which ended up on the floor. Mr Appleby said the victim tried to restrain Eaton and the defendant punched him to the head.

Mr Simpson held Eaton’s clothing, but was punched in the mouth, which caused him pain and bleeding, and Eaton fled the shop.

Eaton, who has a one-year-old child, was arrested in the nearby Last Orders pub later that afternoon.

When interviewed by police, he said he had an argument with his girlfriend at his home address and went and bought a one-litre bottle of whisky, drank it and could not remember what happened after that.

He told officers he was “gutted” about what he had done and said he “had no intention of carrying out this sort of crime before he drank the whisky”.

Mr Trystan Roberts, defending, told the court Eaton had no weapon and had “failed dismally”.

He added: “This was not the work of a criminal genius. It was not a sophisticated crime.”

Mr Roberts said Eaton showed “an appropriate amount of remorse” in his police interview, and added: “I spoke to him this morning about the 14-year-old (who witnessed the incident) and he is particularly ashamed about that particular aspect of this case.”

Eaton, of Vulcan Road, Barrow, admitted burglary and assault.

He was remanded in custody until May 4 when he will appear at Lancaster Crown Court for sentencing.

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