Woman jailed for spitting in police officer's eye after attempted robbery

Saroye Stores, Pixmore Ave, Letchworth

Saroye Stores, Pixmore Ave, Letchworth - Credit: Google Street View

A woman who tried to rob a Letchworth store owner and threatened him with a knife has been jailed for four years.

Gemma Francis, 33, of no fixed address, appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday (December 21), after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, possession of a bladed article in a public place and assaulting an emergency worker.

The court heard how she went into Saroye Stores in Pixmore Avenue wearing a black face mask and sunglasses on the evening of October 3 of this year, and at the counter demanded the store owner hand over £50 before taking out a knife and saying: “Give me the money",

She was challenged and left empty handed. No one was hurt during the incident.

Officers from Herts police attended and, upon arresting Francis, she spat in one of the officer’s faces, before later claiming she had AIDS.

As a result, he was taken to the A&E department at Lister Hospital where his eyes were washed out.

Francis, at the time of the offence, was under the influence of drugs and prescription drugs.

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Having been released on licence earlier this year, she was later recalled for a breach, but failed to return to prison and so at the time of the latest offences in October was “unlawfully at large".

Martin Mulgrew, prosecuting, said: “Spitting in the face of another individual during the pandemic must be a serious aggravating factor."

He said the knife Francis had armed herself with has never been found.

The court was told many of the offences she has committed over the years had been to fund her drug habit.