Shop robbed four times in a week

VICTIMS: Danko and his mother Maria outside their shop in 2004, which has been robbed repeatedly this year.
VICTIMS: Danko and his mother Maria outside their shop in 2004, which has been robbed repeatedly this year.
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A BURGLAR is behind bars for targeting a shop twice in two days leaving an elderly shopkeeper and her son living in fear.

Gary Cooper, 26, stole cash from Bennett Lane Stores in Hanging Heaton, in a week when the shop was robbed four times.

Store manager Danko awoke at 8.30am on October 1 to find Cooper in the flat above the shop. He hit Cooper with a walking stick to make him leave.

Cooper pushed past Danko’s 85-year-old mother, Maria, and snatched £30 from her hands and £20 from the shop counter, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Early next morning Danko found Cooper, masked, in the shop’s store room. He demanded cash and unplugged the shop’s telephone.

Danko, 54, picked up two knives to threaten Cooper, who ran away.

Danko, who asked for his surname not to be published, and his mother are both still traumatised. He was left cut and bruised during the confrontations and his mother injured her neck, back, arms and legs.

He said: “We are both recovering from our injuries, we are both sleeping badly, we are still trying to get over the experience. I’m still having nightmares about being attacked.”

Police are still investigating the other robberies that week.

Danko said: “We have tried for a large number of years to provide a service to the community. Whether the shop will now survive, having lost what we have lost, is debateable.”

Cooper admitted four counts of burglary and one of attempted burglary.

Mehran Nassiri, prosecuting, said shortly after the burglary on October 2, Cooper was seen looking into nearby houses and was photographed by neighbours.

A policeman then saw Cooper outside Bennett Lane Stores and later identified him from the pictures.

On October 3, Cooper was seen leaving an empty house in Preston Street, Earlsheaton, with a bag full of copper wiring.

At Cooper’s home in Bank View, Earlsheaton, officers found a bank card belonging to a 78-year-old man whose house in Asco Place, Earlsheaton, was burgled on September 15.

Sentencing Cooper to 32 months in jail, the Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier told him: “Your victims include an 85-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man.

“You had confrontations with her 54-year-old son who seems to have shown considerable strength of character in trying to resist you.

“You got away with it at the time, but you are finally caught.”