There were tears of relief from some of the ‘absolutely petrified’ victims of Neil Gordon’s Melton axe robbery rampage when they found out they would not have to give evidence against him in court.
Three members of staff at the One Stop Shop, in Grange Drive, were waiting nervously for Monday’s scheduled trial to begin at Leicester Crown Court when news came through that he had pleaded guilty to the robbery charges levelled against him.
They had been in the shop that fateful night, on March 1, when Gordon burst in wearing a mask and hood and demanding money from the till, threatening them with an axe and pulling one of them violently to the floor.
Store manager Richard Mason told the Melton Times this week: “There were a few tears shed when we were told of the guilty plea.
“Both of the ladies who were working in the shop that night were absolutely petrified about seeing him again and having to give evidence against him in court.”
Mr Mason had been working at the back of the store when he came out after hearing an ‘almighty scream’ and being then confronted with Gordon brandishing the axe.
The robber pulled one of the women to the floor, knocking a stack of beer cans over in his desperation to get money from the till. But he eventually fled empty-handed.
One of the members of staff has since left her job because of the trauma she suffered but Mr Mason added: “I want to thank the staff members who went through that ordeal with me for staying strong afterwards. I’m very proud of them.”
Five minutes after that incident, Gordon put the staff of nearby Craven Street Stores through a similar ordeal.
This time he became even more violent, striking part-owner Ann Sage over the head with the axe and pushing her forcibly against a wall in an attempt to steal money. He also threatened shop assistant Sue Thomas after jumping over the counter.
Ann had stitches in her head at hospital after the terrifying incident and still bears the scars of the assault but she is determined to attend court to see her assailant sentenced.
Her husband, Richard, said: “Ann’s head has healed now but she still has a badly bruised shoulder.
“It’s not the physical injuries, it’s the mental scars that cause the problems afterwards.
“Our assistant Sue was cornered by the till when he came in with the axe and I didn’t think she would come back to work after that but she’s been strong and she did come back.”
Richard and Ann have run the shop for 40 years but this is the first time anything like this has happened there.
They praised the police for their quick work in apprehending Gordon as a suspect.
“The fact he was caught so quickly and taken off the streets so he couldn’t do it again really set Ann’s mind at rest,” added Richard.