Brave shopkeeper of Llanmartin, Newport stood up to gun-wielding robber

South Wales Argus: CHARGES: The Lifestyle store in Llanmartin. A court heard yesterday the shopowner bravely defied a gun-wielding robber CHARGES: The Lifestyle store in Llanmartin. A court heard yesterday the shopowner bravely defied a gun-wielding robber

A BRAVE shop owner refused to hand over cash to a man who pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him, a court heard.

Christy D’Silva, who owns the Lifestyle Store in Birch Grove, Llanmartin, Newport, was confronted by Connor Harte on July 5, 2012, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Co-accused, Ben Evans, 21, of Malcolm Sargent Close, Scott Stephens, 23, of Tennyson Road, and Daniel Saunders 19, of Malcolm Sargent Close, all Newport, are on trial accused of conspiracy to rob – they deny the charge.

The three men were in the car which drove Harte, 19, of Morden Road, Newport, to and from the shop, but all three deny any knowledge of Harte’s intentions and said he only told them after they got back into Newport.

Prosecutor Huw Evans told the jury the silver Vauxhall Astra registered to Stephens was seen on CCTV at the Kingsway car park at 6.39pm on July 5.

Evans was seen getting out and get a parking ticket before Harte arrived.

Mr Evans said Saunders was picked up at around 7.30pm.

At around 8.55pm, as Mr D’Silva was near the front door of the shop and closing up, Harte asked him if he sold Coke before following him inside.

In Mr D’Silva’s statement, which was read to the jury, he said when he was inside, he turned around to see the man, later confirmed to be Harte, pointing a black handgun at him.

The court heard Harte said: “Put the money in the bag or I’ll shoot you” referring to a black, drawstring bag he had with him.

Mr D’Silva replied “go ahead and shoot,” prompting Harte to reiterate his threat but Mr D’Silva did not back down and Harte left empty handed.

Mr Evans said there is no dispute between the prosecution and defence counsel that it was Harte who confronted Mr D’Silva.

Harte was recognised on CCTV by a police officer and was arrested at home on July 6.

The three co-accused handed themselves in on July 9, but Saunders was described as having actively avoided the police having spent the previous two nights in hotels in Cardiff and getting a replacement mobile phone given to him by his father.

Proceeding

Previous record read out to jury

HARTE’S previous convictions were read to the jury yesterday.

The court heard he had a conviction for robbery after he walked into a Newport convenience store on December 16, 2010, brandishing a knife and threatened to kill the shopkeeper if he did not hand over cash.

He made off with £1,400.

Just four days later, he attacked another shopkeeper in the city, spraying ammonia in his face before trying to steal from the till, but the man fought back and wrestled him to the floor where Harte stabbed him in the leg with a screwdriver.

Harte was given an 18-month detention order for robbery, attempted robbery and wounding and the jury heard he was out on post-release licence for those offences when this one took place, having been released halfway through his sentence.

Defendant says weapon used was an imitation firearm

IN A statement from Saunders’ girlfriend, Laura Williams, she said when she met Saunders that night, he told her one of the boys had tried to carry out an armed robbery and he had to get rid of the gun.

The pair drove to an alley near his home where Saunders picked up a black drawstring bag before driving to the lane heading towards Hartridge School.

Miss Williams said once there, Saunders got out of the car, picked up the bag and walked off, returning two minutes later.

Mr Evans said on December 28, after previously denying disposing of the gun, Saunders changed his statement and said he did, but it was made of plastic.

Though the court heard one of the defendants claimed the gun had been a plastic imitation, the gun has never been recovered.

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