Victim may visit robber in prison

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

A PENSIONER threatened by a teenage robber with a weapon in a community shop said last night she may visit him in prison.

Helen Powell, 74, was volunteering in the Iffley Community Shop in Church Way, Oxford, when Patrick Gallagher rushed at her with one arm of a pair of scissors.

He escaped with about £100 but has been jailed for six years for the robbery and a brutal attack on another man.

Miss Powell, who still volunteers at the shop, yesterday recalled the hold-up but said she hoped Gallagher would turn his life around.

And she would even consider visiting him in prison.

Gallagher, of Bath Street in Oxford, went into the shop on March 30 and Miss Powell said: “I thought if anything what he had in mind was a bit of shoplifting. “I thought about asking if there was anything particular he was looking for and if he hadn’t got what he wanted then I would like him to leave, but I thought it would probably provoke him.

“He suddenly rushed at me with a knife. “I knew the official advice in the circumstances was to hand over the money, not risk personal injury, so I did. “He got about £100, I tried to count it as I handed it over.

“It was alarming but when it was actually happening, you can’t believe it is happening.”

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The pensioner was unsure if prison would do Gallagher any good.

She said: “I hope that something will happen to enable him turn his life around, whether it be education or whatever.

“I have never done any prison visiting but I think if I were a good Christian I would go and see him.

“That is something I would consider.”

Gallagher admitted robbery and causing grievous bodily harm to Shane Lawrence, a fellow inmate when he was being held at Reading Young Offenders’ Institution in July for the robbery.

He attacked Lawrence with a blunt piece of metal, fracturing his skull.

Graham Smith, prosecuting, said after the robbery Gallagher, now 18, had told his mother what he had done.

She made him go to the police. It was while being held on remand that he assaulted Lawrence because he said he had been bullying him.

Lawrence could suffer permanent brain damage due to his injuries, Mr Smith told Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

Jailing Gallagher for two years for robbery and four years for the GBH, Judge Christopher Compston said: “I am mindful of your age, your difficult life this far and your regret for your actions, but if you commit any further offences in the future you will be going down for years and years.”

Miss Powell was not required to give evidence in court.

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