THE owner of the Phoenix Green petrol station has applauded the seven-year jail term handed down to an armed robber who terrorised his staff — but issued a plea to the Home Office to make sure he serves his time in full.
John Ashworth, who owns the family business in London Road, Hartley Wintney, spoke to the Mail after Robin Lee, of Hook, was jailed last week for committing an armed robbery at the petrol station in January.
Lee, 32, made his demands by passing a note, signed "Robin Hood", to the lone female cashier.
But the fingerprints he left all over it led to him being caught.
He flashed a knife at the cashier in the hold-up at 5.30pm on January 11, and she did as his note instructed and passed him nearly £1,000 in cash.
He also pocketed seven cheques totalling nearly £500.
Mr Ashworth said: "I am just pleased that he has gone, but the trouble is he could be back out next year.
"The sentence may seem long, but it is not if he does not serve it in full. This is the concern of everyone in the country — that dangerous criminals are getting let out too early.
"I want to see him serve the full seven years.
"The police did a good job, but I feel sorry for them. It must be so disheartening for them to catch criminals only to see them let out too early.
"I think we should bring back the death penalty or have three chances and you're out.
"If we applied that, the two Rolex murderers who were in the news this week would not have been there to commit that crime in the first place.
"They only served one year of a four-year term for a previous offence. It must really upset the police. It is a joke."
The hold-up brought back memories of the killing of teenager Raymond Kelly 11 years ago in the same petrol station.
Two men from Reading are serving life imprisonment for the killing of 17-year-old Raymond, who lived in Hartley Wintney.
He was shot in the back at point blank range as he lay face down on the floor during a robbery.
Mr Ashworth said: "That was particularly brutal and no-one around here can forget that day.
"My daughter was working in the petrol station at the time and she is still here now."
Despite the two hold-ups, Mr Ashworth and his family and staff are determined not to let it get the better of them.
He said: "We do have a 100% concern, but it is no different from any other retailer, whether it is a supermarket or a post office.
"While the penalties are not strong enough they will take no notice and walk in and say ‘give me the money', or even pass a note.
"We have CCTV here and that helped catch Lee, and I hope that acts as a deterrent in some form.
"The girl involved in the hold-up was shaken, as anyone would be. If someone pulls a knife on you and threatens you it will; it is something that no-one can be prepared for."