Thief walks into Greggs and demands money - but worker's response sends him packing

Simon Hancock tried to rob a Greggs store but was 'rebuffed'
Simon Hancock tried to rob a Greggs store but was 'rebuffed' -Credit:West Yorkshire Police

A Wakefield robber who targeted three stores in just 15 minutes in a short and shambolic crime spree was "rebuffed" when he tried his hand at stealing from a Greggs.

Simon Hancock successfully stole a milkshake from a WH Smith store near Wakefield bus station shortly after 6.30am on February 5 this year before trying to rob from the nearby fast food bakery.

His defence barrister Sam Roxborough told Leeds Crown Court on Friday: "His attempt at the Greggs was immediately rebuffed." The court heard one of the staff members said she "will not tolerate" behaviour from those such as Hancock, 34.

Read more: Smirking thief who left pregnant woman terrified gets nasty shock from jail

Prosecutor Louise Pryke told the court the spree started at the WH Smith store where there was a man working behind the till. She said: "He noted the defendant outside and said he looked like he was acting suspiciously. He entered the store, got a milkshake and said, 'open the till, there are three guys waiting out back'. He said 'no' and was unable to open the till.

"The defendant repeated the request three times and then tried to grab the charity box, which was chained up, and pulled it. He then left with the milkshake."

After that, Hancock carried out his failed attempt of a robbery at the Greggs before turning his attention to a Costa Coffee branch.

Ms Pryke said: "A staff member had just started work and placed her handbag on the counter and was talking to a colleague. Both saw the defendant and thought something was not right about him.

"He went to the till and pretended to be on the phone and said, 'I'm really sorry, I need the till - you're going to get hurt. I've got a car of people outside'. He went around the back of the till and one of the women pressed the panic alarm and the other tried to call the police. He said, 'you don't need to do that'."

Hancock, who is homeless, then ordered the till was opened. He grabbed a till card and one of the staff members grabbed it back, before he went into one of the bags, taking £190 from it, and fleeing the scene.

Ms Pryke said that in his police interview, Hancock answered "no comment". He went on to plead guilty to two counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery.

The court heard he had nine previous convictions for 32 offences, which began in 2022. At the time of the offences he was on licence. It was said offences on his record included burglary of a non-dwelling, shop theft and failure to comply with court orders.

Get all the latest and breaking West Yorkshire court news straight to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter here.

Mitigating, Mr Roxborough said he has since been recalled to prison and was withdrawing from drugs at the time of the offence. He said: "At the time was a need to get money in order to fuel his drug addiction as at the time he was in a state of withdrawal."

Mr Roxborough said the robberies and attempted robbery lasted 15 minutes and added: "He feels remorse for what he has put his victims through and recognises his actions would impact their ability to go to work. When he was arrested he tested positive for cocaine and opium. He said they helped him to get over his grief."

The court was told Hancock has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and complex bereavement reaction following the death of his mother, and he "used illicit drugs as a coping strategy"

Mr Roxborough addressed His Honour Judge Simon Batiste and said: "I hope you don't see him as a lost cause. He has previously contributed to society through his work but he is in a position where hopefully with intervention he can turn his back on repeated offending."

Judge Batiste jailed Hancock for three years and said: "Things have gone very badly wrong in the last two or three years and you have developed a long record of offences and these were committed when you were subject to licence from a previous prison sentence...All of these occurred in the space of 15 to 20 minutes."

Hancock will serve half of the three-year sentence in custody before being released on licence in the community. The judge said: "You are someone who is clearly capable of leading a law-abiding life. You need to get help and get and get your life back onto an even keel because if you don't the sentences will get longer and longer."