Robber caught after dropping his hat at scene of crime

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A ROBBER who sprayed pepper spray in his victim’s face to get thousands of pounds in shop takings was caught after he dropped his cap.

Stuart Simmons is starting a four-year jail term after he was caught by traces of DNA.

He and another man had plotted to steal from Amir Sattari as he took the takings from a number of Spar shops he owns in the city to the bank.

The day before the raid they followed their victim to check his route.

The next day, after Mr Sattari had left the Spar shop in Osborne Road, Southsea, with £15,000 in a rucksack Simmons pounced, knocking his glasses off and spraying the unsuspecting shop owner in the face.

Although he could barely see, Mr Sattari hung on to his bag and managed to knock the would-be thief’s baseball cap off in the struggle.

His attacker ran off as stunned shoppers called the police while others went to help Mr Sattari.

Simmons, who has previous convictions for 15 offences, including assault and possession of an imitation firearm, was arrested 10 days later after police tracked him down from the DNA.

Prosecutor Matthew Jewell said Mr Sattari had been left terrified.

‘He describes himself since the incident as being very scared and panicky,’ he said.

‘He says he has lost his confidence, he is now a scared man.’

Simmons, who has worked as a plasterer in the past, told the police the robbery in May was planned by someone he knew through taking heroin but said he was too scared to name him.

Michael Williams, defending, said: ‘Mr Simmons made the most stupid and disastrous decision he has taken in his life.‘

Simmons, of Bayly Avenue, Portchester, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of cannabis after he was found with the drug on his arrest.

Sentencing him at Portsmouth Crown Court Judge Susan Evans QC said: ‘This was something that happened in broad daylight on a busy street where Mr Sattari should have felt safe.

‘You had already armed yourself with a spray can.

‘It seems that this is a very determined effort.

‘Courageously he hung on to the bag. No doubt the loss of the money would have been disastrous for his business.’