Robber hit with groceries at Speldhurst shop jailed

William Hayton
Image caption Hayton fled a shop empty-handed when he was hit with a shopping bag

An armed robber driven out of a post office by a man wielding a shopping bag has been jailed for nine years.

William Hayton, 48, of Tunbridge Wells, was convicted of two counts of robbery, two of attempted robbery, and four of possession of a firearm with intent.

Lewes Crown Court heard he carried out raids in East Sussex and Kent in April 2007 with a sawn-off shotgun.

However, he was forced to flee a post office in Speldhurst when George Smith, 82, hit him with his bag of groceries.

Mr Smith struck Hayton twice over the head with the bag, which contained an iceberg lettuce and bottles of bleach and washing-up liquid. Hayton fled empty-handed.

Passing sentence, the judge recommended that the pensioner should be awarded £500 from public funds for outstanding bravery and a commendation from the high sheriff.

Hayton, of Erskine Park Road, was jailed for seven years for the robbery and firearm offences in 2007, and two years for the supply and possession of Class A drugs in June 2010.

The sentences are to run consecutively.

Speaking after the case, Sussex Police said in each of the robberies he wore a hooded top, baseball cap, white dust mask and latex gloves.

He also carried a sawn-off shotgun, which he would load in front of staff to show that it was real before demanding cash.

Businesses in Horam, Bexhill, Hawkhurst, and Speldhurst were targeted.

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