Masked robber sentenced after wielding a crowbar at staff at Ashfield Post Office

Benjamin Merrifield
Benjamin Merrifield

A local bobby was praised in court for the capture of a masked robber who struck twice at a village post office.

Jobless Benjamin Merrifield got away both times he walked into the premises on Forest Road, Annesley Woodhouse, Nottingham Crown Court heard [TUES].
But when the second raid took place, PC Richard Howell used his local knowledge to search a path running from Forest Road towards the Sherwood Business Park.
He found a balaclava which carried the DNA of Merrifield, 32, of Lime Avenue, Huthwaite who was later arrested. He used to live opposite the post office.
Gregory Dickinson QC, Nottingham's senior judge, commended the officer after he imposed a prison term of four years six months on Merrifield who admitted two robberies.
The court heard that Merrifield wore a balaclava and wielded a wheel brace, first entering the premises at 6.30am on January 3.
He got away with around £700 and 100 packets of cigarettes - returning to the Annesley Woodhouse premises on January 24. This time he escaped with £90 and 20 packs of cigarettes.
He was banned for five years from going within 100 yards of the post office.
The judge told him: "Many victims of crime feel understandably it will happen again.
"To this lady, that is exactly what happened.
"She has been deeply affected by what has happened to her. She said 'I feel it has been made worse because it has not just happened once but twice and just in three weeks.'
"She is afraid to walk to work and her husband has to accompany her and wait while she opens up. She has said 'I feel scared and I feel very emotional. He has no right to make me feel like this.'"
Merrifield claimed to have acted as a lookout for another robber who went into the post office. But the judge, who studied CCTV of both robberies, said he was satisfied that Merrifield acted alone.
David Allan, prosecuting, said checks on Merrifield's mobile phone showed that he was outside the post office the night before the first offence.
Security cameras showed him waiting outside the Forest Road shop before going in wearing a balaclava. He points a wheel brace at the woman who was alone and working behind the counter.
The same thing happened at 5.30am one January 24 but this time the woman worker had a panic alarm in her pocket. Merrifield escaped but was detained after the discovery of the balaclava.
James Beck, mitigating, told the court: "This defendant is not the most violent of people and he certainly has a history of depression and is generally a weak and inadequate person."
He had no settled address and "for a long period had camped in the woods." Even when giving accommodation by a friend, he slept in a chair, said Mr Beck.