A man has been jailed for four years after robbing a series of Northampton supermarkets by threatening to infect staff with hepatitis.
Bradley Mayes, 38, from Cardiff, was sentenced in Northampton Crown Court yesterday (July 20) after earlier pleading guilty to 12 offences, including robbery, theft and possession of an offensive weapon.
Over the course of a month, he carried out eight robberies and stole an estimated £300 worth of goods from four Northampton stores using a nearly identical method each time; walking in, loading up his basket, and threatening to stab staff with a hypodermic needle if they stopped him.
His Honour Judge Timothy Smith said: "Staff at these stores were quite fearful for their health. They feared you would stab them with the needle, and were fearful of all the consequences to their health from that."
The court heard how Mayes, who has convictions for 35 previous offences, carried out the spate of robberies between January 26 and February 14, 2017.
On every occasion, members of staff at the supermarkets would stand in Mayes' way after seeing him load his basket with meat and high-value goods and attempting to leave without paying.
Addressing Mayes, Judge Smith said: "You would then produce a syringe from your pocket and say words to the effect of 'Stay back, I've got hepatitis.'
"Later investigations found that the needles were clean. But the threat was sufficient."
Mayes even targeted one Co-Op in Birchfield Road on three separate occasions, and threatened the same member of staff on two different occasions.
Mayes' spree was brought to an end when he was arrested at Northampton General Hospital, after he was admitted for an incident not related to the charges.
In sentencing, Judge Smith said: "I recognise that you were committing these crimes to fund a crack-cocaine and heroin addiction, even spending up to £100 a day on your habit. Since your arrest, you have recognised this and have abstained from drugs.
"I sympathise with anyone who has been hospitalised as you had, but I feel your admission to hospital may have been a turning point for you to change your ways."
Mayes was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.