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Praise for ‘brave citizens’ whose pursuit of armed robber led to his arrest

PUBLISHED: 09:20 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:20 28 March 2018

Dion Carr. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Dion Carr. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

Members of the public who chased an armed robber and helped bring him to justice have been rewarded by a judge for their bravery.

Peter Lawrence was robbed of £6,500 at his betting shop Harleston Racing Ltd. Picture: Archant.Peter Lawrence was robbed of £6,500 at his betting shop Harleston Racing Ltd. Picture: Archant.

As Dion Carr fled from small family-owned bookies Harleston Racing Ltd, armed with an eight inch kitchen knife and clad in a balaclava, Steven Bishop and Farah Moussavi saw him and took pursuit through the town.

Both have now been awarded £200 from the public purse for their bravery.

Carr, 30, had made off with more than £6,500 from shop owner Peter Lawrence on June 9 last year after brandishing a knife at him and demanding cash.

But he was tracked down and arrested on January 11, after police recovered the knife he had thrown down a drain and found his DNA on a cigarette butt left in the area.

At Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday Carr was given an 11 year extended sentence for robbery, with six years custody and a licence period of five years.

Prosecutor Chris Youell told the court how Carr had gone into the betting shop around 4pm, where Mr Lawrence was working alone, and demanded money while waving a large meat knife in the air.

“Mr Lawrence describes seeing a man wearing a balaclava with two eye holes,” he said. “The man approached the counter and said ‘give me your money, I have got a knife’.

“Mr Lawrence thought if he didn’t give him the money he would be stabbed. He took out all the £10 notes from the nearest till. The man was holding a bag open with both hands and loaded bundles of cash into the bag.”

When Carr was arrested in January he admitted the robbery in interview. Aviva have paid out insurance of £6,535 to Mr Lawrence and sought compensation from Carr, but Mr Youell said “the money is long gone”.

Carr, of no fixed abode, has 13 convictions for 33 offences, including a robbery in 2007.

Mitigating, Gavin Cowe said his motive had been “short term financial gain”.

“The money was used to pay a debt that he owed so there was no personal gain save for reduction of the debt,” he said. “He has had time to reflect on his actions and is aware of the likely length of sentence. He has plans to use that time usefully with a view to leaving this offending behaviour behind him.”

Heroes chased armed robber

As Carr ran along Harleston Thoroughfare after robbing the bookies of thousands of pounds, Mr Bishop and Ms Moussavi gave chase.

Prosecutor Chris Youell told Norwich Crown Court Carr was seen “acting suspiciously” in the area with a knife and balaclava.

“Some witnesses searched Everson’s Lane together and found a man in a dead end alleyway,” he said. “He was out of breath and it was clearly the robber.

“One witness confronted the man who ran off and they gave chase, but lost sight of him outside Budgens supermarket, having bravely given chase to the armed robber.”

Judge Maureen Bacon praised the “public spirited citizens” who chased Carr and led to his arrest.

“I would like to commend Farah Moussavi and Steven Bishop who gave chase and pursued the defendant, at risk to themselves,” she said. “It was their assiduous following that led to the finding of items which led to his arrest.

“They are to be commended both in the sum of £200.”

Business owner left “petrified”

Former owner of Harleston Racing Ltd, 63-year-old Peter Lawrence, faced Carr in court to read his victim impact statement.

“This whole experience has been very frightening,” he told the court. “I found myself feeling guilty and helpless, and started to question why I did not react differently at the time.

“I was helplessly emptying the till and I just had to do it. I just found it petrifying. I had no choice but to participate in what was happening. The whole thing has been very stressful and left me with a huge financial worry. I continued with the business and tried to put on a brave face, but I was struggling internally.

“Every time the door opened I would look up in panic, fearing the same thing could happen again. The stuffing has been taken out of me and I lost my spark. I was no longer the happy, confident man I was once.”

Mr Lawrence closed the business last October and said the robbery had been a “big factor”.

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