An armed robber who attacked a woman with a knife after she started a new job as a shop worker was jailed for four years today.
Ian Stodart, 31 lunged at Mary Selverajah, 38, with a large kitchen knife after demanding money but the victim bravely fought back as he made further attempts to strike her with the blade.
She struggled with Stodart and managed to turn him around and backed in behind a counter before she screamed and ran into a next door post office to raise the alarm.
A judge told Stodart at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have pled guilty to assault to injury and attempted robbery with the use of a knife at your local shop.”
Lady Scott said it was the victim’s first day as a shop assistant and added: “Your victim bravely struggled with you and managed to escape out of the shop.”
She added: “It is fortunate your victim was not significantly injured and did not require medical treatment.”
The judge said she noted that Stodart had said he was sorry a number of times immediately after the offence and had expressed remorse.
Lady Scott told Stodart that she had reduced his sentence from one of five and a half years to take account of his guilty plea.
Stodart earlier admitted assaulting and attempting to rob Ms Selverajah on July 21 last year at Roslin Mini Market in the Midlothian village.
The court heard that Stodart realised that the victim had just started work at the shop on Main Street.
The shop owner had phoned her and she tried to whisper that Stodart was making her feel uncomfortable, but the owner could not make out what was being said.
Stodart walked around the counter and the woman realised he was armed with a knife. He shouted at her: “Give me the money.”
The owner told her to press the panic alarm and run from the premises but she was unable to locate the alarm and could not flee the shop as the robber was blocking her escape route.
Stodart lunged at her with the blade and struck her twice on the chest, but as he brought the knife down she stepped back and only sustained a small cut.
After she managed to flee Stodart left the shop with the knife. An onlooker tried to calm the situation by saying to him: “It’s OK.” Stodart appeared to be confused and was rambling incoherently.
Stodart went back to his then home address in Roslin and when police arrived he answered the door and immediately began to say: “I’m sorry.”
He later told officers that he had consumed a small amount of bleach and was taken to hospital where he said: “I hope the lady is OK.”
Stodart told police that he had seen blood but thought that it was his. He want on to say that he did not want to kill her.
After he was charged he said: “I didn’t touch any money out the till. I got a bit irrational because of my mental health.”
Defence solicitor advocate Richard Souter said Stodart was anxious at the time as he was a witness in a court case.
Stodart had been examined and was found not to be suffering from any severe mental illness.