Peterborough addict used syringe to rob four people

A woman who left four people terrified after she used a hypodermic needle to threaten them in city robberies sobbed as she was jailed for six years.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 9:13 am
Gemma Francis

Gemma Francis carried out the morning robberies over two days, one month apart, earlier this year.

She threatened a supermarket manager, a taxi driver and two people on their way to work near the city centre, getting away with a small amount of cash, a bottle of wine and a mobile phone.

But drug addict Francis (29) of no fixed abode, was caught, and on Friday she appeared at Peterborough Crown Court, where she pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery.

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She appeared at the court via video link from HMP Peterborough, and sobbed as Judge Sean Enright jailed her for a total of six years.

The hearing had to be paused a number of times as she interrupted while the facts of the case were opened.

Claire Matthews, prosecuting, told the court the first incident happened at about 6.30am on May 10 this year.

She said: “The woman was walking to work, and was heading towards the railway station.

“The defendant approached her and asked her for money. When the victim said she did not have any, the defendant said ‘don’t do anything silly - I’ve got a needle.’

“The defendant walked the victim to the station, showing her the needle, where the victim withdrew £20 from an ATM.”

Francis then threatened the victim, telling her not to call police.

Just half an hour later, Francis stopped a cyclist in the Granville Street area of town. She asked him for the time, before asking for money. When the cyclist said he didn’t have any money, she pulled the needle out, and ordered him to empty his pockets. While he had no money, she took his mobile phone.

A month later, at 6.30am on June 11, Francis went into Tesco Express on Oundle Road, and was seen to take a bottle of wine and hide it in a jacket.

Miss Matthews said the manager approached her, and asked her to put the bottle back - at which point Francis pulled out the syringe and said ‘I’ll stab you and give you AIDS.”

Again, just half an hour later the defendant got into a taxi.

When the driver asked for the fare, Francis demanded money.

Miss Matthews said: “Francis said ‘I’ll give you to the count of 10 or I’ll smash up your unit.’

“She then pulled out the syringe and said ‘I’ve got HIV - I’ll give it to you.’”

The driver then got out the car, and Francis took around £25,

She left, saying she would ‘poke’ the driver with the needle. He waited for her to leave, before calling police.

The court was told she was arrested on June 24, and made no comment in police interview.

Samantha Marsh, defending, told the court Francis was homeless, and had been addicted to both crack cocaine and heroin.

She said; “She is extremely remorseful. She wants to write letters to the victims of the robberies to apologise.

“At the time she had no money, no accommodation, and was heavily addicted to drugs. She didn’t care what happened to her.

“She knows these are nasty offences, and she is extremely ashamed. She said to me ‘I’m not that type of person.’”

Miss Marsh said Francis was hoping to detox in prison to give her a chance to ‘start afresh.’

She added: “She is sorry. She was down on her luck and realises things need to change.”

Judge Enright said: “These are serious offences” . He gave her six years on each count, to be served concurrently.