Prison for rapist who raided a pet shop at knife point

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A ROBBER has been handed an indeterminate prison sentence for public protection after a court heard that he carried out a knife point raid at a pet shop in Yorkshire while on licence for a horrific rape.

Leeds Crown Court heard Stewart Exley was jailed for six years in 1998 for similar knife point robberies at a building society and an off licence.

While serving that sentence he absconded in 2001 from Wealstun prison, near Wetherby, and while on the run broke into the home of a 60-year-old woman in Moortown, Leeds, subjecting her to a terrifying ordeal.

She woke at 4am to find him shining a torch in her face telling her not to look at him.

High on amphetamines, he then sexually abused and raped her only leaving after he had also burgled the property.

Exley was jailed for 12 years consecutive to his original six-year sentence for those offences after the judge in that case told him: “I cannot begin to imagine what it was like.”

David MacKay, prosecuting, said that on October 6 last year Exley was released on licence but in May this year his details were circulated for a prison recall following his persistent non-compliance with instructions from his probation officer.

However on May 20 before he was found he struck at the Creature Comforts pet shop in Meanwood, Leeds, threatening the owner Helen Wolstenholme with a knife telling her “give me all the money”.

She handed over £25 and when he demanded more pretended the owner had already cashed up. He asked for her mobile phone putting the knife on the counter.

He then reached over and took coins from the till and demanded she gave him the rest.

She bravely threw the other coins at him and although frightened, took the knife off the counter and began dialling 999.

At first he did not believe her when she said that was what she was doing but eventually he ran out towards Church Avenue with about £50 in cash and her phone.

The court heard it was the second time she had been the victim of such a robbery in six weeks.

A police dog traced Exley to the grounds of a house in Church Avenue where he had been squatting. He was found hiding in the garage. He was recalled to prison and was not due to be released from his rape sentence until 2016.

James Littlehales for Exley said that he threatened but never used the knife.

Sentencing Exley yesterday to an indeterminate sentence, Recorder Nigel Sangster QC said the robbery was another example of him terrifying women by his actions and leaving them traumatised.

He ordered him to serve a minimum of three and a half years but warned the sentence would mean he was only released when the Parole Board considered it safe.

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