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Ipswich knife-point convenience store robber facing prison

Springs Convenience Store, in Spring Road, Ipswich  Picture: PAUL GEATER

Springs Convenience Store, in Spring Road, Ipswich Picture: PAUL GEATER

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A 29-year-old knife-point robber faces jail for holding up two Ipswich convenience stores and making payments with a stolen debit card.

College Street Convenience Store  Picture: ARCHANTCollege Street Convenience Store Picture: ARCHANT

Luke Smart admitted a "rash" of serious offences at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, including robbery and attempted robbery at two shops in February.

Smart, of Oxford Road, Ipswich, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a bladed article on Sunday, February 17, when a man armed with a kitchen knife entered Springs convenience store, in Spring Road, and demanded cigarettes.

He also confessed to handling, and fraudulently using a stolen NatWest debit card to purchase goods following a theft from Aurora restaurant, in Helena Road, on the same afternoon.

Eight days later, on Monday, February 25, Smart admitted another robbery and possession of a bladed article at the College Convenience Store, in Fore Street, where a man armed with a kitchen knife demanded money and left with the till, shortly after 9.30pm.

Aurora bar and restaurant on Ipswich's waterfront  Picture: ARCHANTAurora bar and restaurant on Ipswich's waterfront Picture: ARCHANT

Smart appeared before a judge in custody to admit six charges; robbery, attempted robbery, two counts of knife possession, handling stolen goods and fraud by false representation.

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Sentencing was adjourned until next month for other matters to be taken into consideration.

Lynne Shirley, representing Smart, made no application for bail and acknowledged he would remain in custody for "serious multiple offences" until being sentenced.

Although full mitigation will be presented at the next hearing, she indicated that various factors had led Smart to commit the offences, including a separation, a bereavement, and an unpaid debt incurred by subsequently relapsing into class A drug use.

Smart was said to have successfully completed a painting and decorating course during his time on remand in prison, where he has remained since first appearing in court before Ipswich magistrates on Saturday, May 4, following his arrest.

Judge David Goodin said Smart had carried out a "serious rash of offending" and was likely to face an immediate custodial sentence.

He said the sentencing judge would consider not whether he should be jailed, but for how long.

Smart was remanded in custody until his sentencing hearing at the same court on Tuesday, July 9.

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