@ Crime, News Nick Towle
York shop worker left ‘shaking with fear’ as knife-wielding raider threatened to stab her
A notorious criminal has been jailed for a terrifying knifepoint robbery in which a young shop assistant had a kitchen knife pressed against her stomach.
Callum Vardy, 27, demanded cash while brandishing the ferocious, three-inch blade as the “petrified” cashier “shook with fear”, York Crown Court heard.
Vardy, who was high on drink and drugs, shouted: “Give me the money or I’ll fxxxxxx stab you.”
The named woman, who was working the till at the Co-op store in Beckfield Lane, York, was so terrified she initially couldn’t get the till open, said prosecutor Dan Cordey.
The shocking incident occurred in front of a man and his six-year-old daughter who were being served by the young woman when Vardy pounced.
The robbery occurred just after 9pm on May 20 last year when Vardy was on bail after burgling a couple’s home in Tudor Road, York.
Vardy, who was dressed in dark clothes and a hoodie, suddenly darted behind the counter as the cashier opened the till.
“He produced a black-handled knife and threatened [the shop assistant], demanding money,” said Mr Cordey.
“He was shouting, ‘Give me the money, open the till. Give me the money or I’ll fxxxxxx stab you.’”
Vardy was shoving the shop assistant as she tried to open the till and then pointed the 20cm-long knife at her.
“She felt it touch her stomach as Vardy shouted ‘Open the till!’ repeatedly,” added Mr Cordey.
In a “blind panic”, she entered the wrong security code for the till which infuriated Vardy.
She finally entered the correct code and Vardy started grabbing handfuls of cash and took a packet of cigarettes from the counter as the woman, a university student, shouted “in panic” for help from her colleague.
When her male colleague arrived, he told Vardy to “calm down” and ushered the terrified father and his daughter out of the store.
Vardy ran off with about £100 in cash and dropped the knife just outside the store.
The incident was captured on CCTV and Vardy, who has a long criminal history, was arrested less than a week later.
The shop assistant, who suffered a small cut to her finger, fought back tears as she read out a harrowing victim statement in court which outlined the “profound” effect the incident had had on her.
She said she was too afraid to go back to work at the Co-op following the incident due to severe “mental trauma”.
She had undergone counselling and had underperformed in her university exams as a direct result of that trauma.
Before the incident she had dreams of working in the rehabilitation of offenders, but due to her ordeal her “dreams are shattered”.
She said that when Vardy pointed the knife at her she was “absolutely petrified” and “shaking with fear.”
Punched in the jaw
Mr Cordey said the burglary occurred just before 5am on 21 February, 2021, when the victims were asleep in bed. They were woken by the rustling of blinds in their living room.
Vardy and his sidekick Oliver Wharton, 27, and possibly one other man had got in through an unlocked window. Vardy then went inside their bedroom and told them: “Give me all of your sxxx.”
Wharton then entered the bedroom and picked up an ornamental machete at the side of the man’s bed as one of the burglars told the named victims: “We’re not going to hurt you but if you grass, we will stab you.”
They then went back into the living room and stole £400 from a jar. They ran out of the front door with the cash and the machete and as they did so, Vardy punched the victim in the jaw.
He and Wharton were arrested a short time later thanks to CCTV evidence and Vardy leaving his fingerprints on the open window.
The male victim said it was a “very stressful and scary ordeal” which had profoundly affected his mental health. He had suffered from “extreme” depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress and had trouble sleeping. He no longer felt safe in his own home.
Vardy and Wharton were charged with burglary and ultimately admitted the offence. Vardy also admitted the robbery and carrying a knife. They appeared for sentence via video link today (Tuesday) after being remanded in custody.
The court heard that Vardy – formerly of Dringfield Close, York, but currently of no fixed address – had 24 previous convictions for 32 offences including shoplifting, assaulting police, threatening behaviour, affray, damaging property and serious violence including wounding and causing grievous bodily harm.
Wharton, also of no fixed abode, had 26 previous convictions for 43 offences including burglary, carrying a knife, threatening behaviour, robbery and serious violence.
Defence barrister Glenn Parsons, for Vardy, said the father-of-one had been a heavy user of heroin and crack cocaine.
Derek Duffy, for Wharton, said his client had been recalled to prison following his arrest to serve the remainder of a two-year jail sentence for robbery and battery.
Judge Simon Hickey said the victims of both the robbery and the burglary must have been “terrified” and noted Vardy and Wharton’s dreadful criminal records. Vardy was handed a six-year prison sentence and Wharton was jailed for two years and four months.