A prolific criminal has been jailed for a violent robbery at an Indian restaurant in Highbridge. Christopher Rost-Aldridge, 32, snatched a free meal and water from the owner of Bengal Spice and when he turned his back, he stole the cash register.
He got away with £700 but not before biting the owner in a fight. His victim was struggling to breathe after suffering an asthma attack.
Taunton Crown Court was told the offense was part of a spree committed by Rost-Aldridge in 2021. He also stole scratch cards from the Esso garage on Burnham Road.
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The accused, from Morland, Highbridge, is a career criminal with 167 prior offenses to his name. He was described in court as “institutionalised” by years in prison. He said he had reached a turning point in his life and wanted to change his ways.
But the judge said the offenses were too serious for anything other than jail and he was jailed for three and a half years.
Recorder Joanna Martin QC said: “You constantly walk around causing aggravation, anger and hurt to others.”
The theft took place on April 19 last year when the owner of Bengal Spice closed its Market Street premises at 11 p.m. He was alone and cleaning when Rost-Aldridge appeared at the door asking for water. The owner gave him water and, when he continued to harass, food in a tray.
About 15 minutes later, the owner heard a crash and discovered that Rost-Aldridge had entered and tried to snatch the crate. The owner tried to snatch it away and there was a scuffle in which the thief bit the restaurant owner on the thumb, breaking his skin. He managed to get away with the crate and its contents, shouting that he needed the money.
The victim was having difficulty breathing and needed an antibiotic in hospital for the bite.
In a statement, the restaurant owner said he had lived in the country for 20 years and worked hard every day to grow the business in his family’s “friendly town”. He now lived looking over his shoulder, fearing that something similar might happen.
Rost-Aldridge pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and burglary.
The burglary happened on January 23, 2021 when he stole scratch cards worth £221 from the Esso garage. A staff member went to the toilet and on his return saw the defendant behind the cash register. Rost-Aldridge fled, pushing the worker into a display of cans.
Mr Rupert Russell, defending, said the offenses were committed to pay for a drug addiction. “He’s at the point in his life where he can turn a corner,” he said.
“There is, for the first time in his life, a glimmer of hope and he has the opportunity to demonstrate that this glimmer is not phantasmagoria and that it is genuine and that he can change his life. . He’s desperate not to go inside.”
He asked the judge to consider postponing the sentence to prove that he could make changes in his life, much of which was spent on institutionalization in prison.
Recorder Martin told Rost-Aldridge: “You have an appalling criminal record and a record that’s underlined by drug use, drug abuse and also someone who’s completely out of control.”
She said a pre-sentence report presented him as someone “who doesn’t seem to care, probably about yourself, but also about anyone else”. “Your lack of concern for who you are hurting when you made the decision to want money for drugs is truly a disturbing trait.”
She said the courts and the police gave him the opportunity to change his ways, but he continued to offend. The take-out owner had been kind to him by feeding him and he could have killed him by causing the asthma attack.
Rost-Aldridge also received a criminal behavior order to prevent him from visiting city premises when he is released after serving half his sentence in prison.
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This notice was published: 2022-03-30 08:05:08