Robbing grandad in Scream mask wrestled woman to floor in shop

A crook who wrestled a woman to the ground during a terrifying robbery told a judge he was "disgusted" in himself.

David Freeman, 38, of Salisbury Street, Everton, has 45 previous convictions for a staggering 111 different offences.

They include stabbing an ex-girlfriend in the bottom and trying to rob a newsagent using a bottle of fabric conditioner.

But the grandad-of-one claimed even he was appalled by his latest raid – robbing a store when wearing a Scream mask.

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He struck at NSN News in Everton and fought with 49-year-old Sugunakala Navaratnarajah over some cigarettes.

Freeman fled but when chased by her husband Murandapody Navaratnarajah stole keys including one to their front door.

NSN News on the corner of Breckfield Road North and Stockbridge Street

Liverpool Crown Court heard Freeman entered the store in Breckfield Road North at around 10pm, on May 10 this year.

Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said he held a piece of plastic, which his victim thought was a stick, and had a carrier bag.

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Mrs Navaratnarajah shouted at Freeman to deter him, but he yelled back "Ciggies! Ciggies!" before the pair struggled.

His mask came off, they fell to the floor and he knelt on her, then snatched some cigarettes.

Mr Duncan said the victim referred to Freeman stamping on her, but that wasn't shown on CCTV footage and it might have been when he actually knelt on her, as advanced by the prosecution.

When the clip was played in court, Freeman told Judge Neil Flewitt, QC: "I'm disgusted in what I've seen, I'm sorry sir."

Mr Duncan said he didn't use the plastic to attack Mrs Navaratnarajah, but she suffered pain in her left elbow and arm, and "severe pain" in her back and thighs.

She had difficulty putting clothes on afterwards and felt the nerves in her hands had been affected, but no medical evidence was provided.

Mr Duncan said: "The incident left her in a state of shock and she described being affected psychologically and being scared to work there."

Freeman was met by the returning Mr Navaratnarajah, who saw his wife chasing him, and followed in his car.

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He lost sight of the crook in Handfield Street, but as he turned his car, Freeman suddenly appeared, opened the driver's door and snatched at his bunch of keys.

Freeman made off with the keys to the store, shop safes and an alarm system, and also the couple's house key.

Police recovered the mask, plastic and carrier bag nearby on May 13 and a full DNA profile for Freeman was on the mask.

He was spotted walking in Low Hill on May 17 and arrested, but made no comment to police in an interview.

Freeman missed a previous court hearing because he was found "intoxicated in his cell", but admitted robbery and theft.

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The court heard he was convicted of wounding, affray and breach of a restraining order in 2014, against an ex-partner.

Mr Duncan said: "They had an argument in the street, the defendant was in possession of a knife, with which he stabbed her once to the buttocks, an injury that required stitches to repair."

In 2018 he was jailed for 12 months for assault with intent to rob and common assault after a botched raid at a McColl's convenience store in West Derby Road, Tuebrook.

He tried to steal from a till but his hand became trapped, so he produced a bottle of Lenor and shouted: "Gun!"

Freeman swung a punch at a shop assistant, which missed, and was detained by a security guard, whose hand he bit.

David Freeman, 35, of Windsor Street, Tuebrook, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to assault with intent to rob and common assault and was jailed for 12 months

He was convicted of theft and battery in 2018, after shoplifting at a Footasylum store, then punching a security guard.

Freeman has committed more thefts since and was still on post-sentence supervision.

Claire Jones, defending, said Freeman was under the influence of drink and drugs at an "emotionally charged time", due to a "fraught relationship" with his daughter.

She said "thankfully" the incident was brief and didn't escalate, and her client showed remorse in a pre-sentence report.

Ms Jones said he had been locked up for roughly 16 years of his life, but his daughter, 21, had a one-year-old son, and he wanted to be part of their lives and knew he must change.

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Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, accepted Freeman may not have stamped on his victim, but her ordeal was "terrifying".

He said: "You had obviously given some thought to what you were intending to do because you had taken with you a piece of plastic, no doubt intending to use it to intimidate the shopkeeper, and you had also a mask, it is described as a Scream mask, which has a frightening effect on anybody who would see it.

"Armed with that weapon and wearing that mask you went into that shop, where there was a lone female shopkeeper."

The judge said Mrs Navaratnarajah "bravely" resisted Freeman.

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He said: "It was a relatively brief struggle but she was manhandled, knocked to the floor and at one point you knelt or lent on her to subdue her."

Judge Flewitt said the victims would have been caused additional stress knowing the key to their home had gone.

He jailed Freeman for three years and eight months.