The Royal Court heard how George-Eduard Gheorghe had brandished a large kitchen knife at the workers at Morrison’s in Gloucester Street during what his defence lawyer described as ‘a moment of madness’.
Crown Advocate Chris Baglin, prosecuting, said that Gheorghe (37) had confronted the two female employees as they closed the shop at around 10pm on Friday 24 January.
One of the employees was held against an office door while the knife was held in her face, Mr Baglin said, after which both women were ordered into the office.
CCTV footage shared in court showed that as Gheorghe went to follow the women into the office, the door was slammed shut and he was unable to get in.
The court heard that the knife was later found in a nearby flowerbed, along with a grey hoodie, a pair of gloves and a ‘beanie’ hat which had two eyeholes cut in it to serve as a makeshift balaclava.
‘One of the assistants has suffered with post-traumatic stress since the incident – she has dreamed about it, suffers from anxiety every day and is fearful about leaving the house after dark,’ Mr Baglin said before suggesting a 4½-year jail term.
Gheorghe was arrested two days later, the court heard, and having initially denied being involved in the incident, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted robbery during his first court appearance.
Advocate Julia-Anne Dix, defending, said that her client had been suffering with anxiety as a result of family concerns and financial difficulty.
The court heard that in the weeks leading up to the crime, Gheorghe had learned that his father had died and that his mother had been left in a coma after being hit by a car, while he had also had £1,700 stolen by his brother during an unexpected visit from Romania and loaned £1,000 to another family member.
Around a month before committing the crime, Gheorghe had started gambling in a failed attempt to escape from his financial problems, Ms Dix added.
‘Due to the pressure he was under, he literally had a moment of madness,’ she said.
Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, sentencing on behalf of the Royal Court’s Superior Number, said it was accepted that there was a ‘moment of madness’ from Gheorghe, who was of previous good character. But he added that this was nevertheless a serious offence that would be punished by a four-year prison sentence.
Although the panel agreed with the submission of the prosecution that Gheorghe’s continued presence in Jersey would be detrimental to the Island, Commissioner Clyde-Smith said the impact on his wife, with whom he had lived in Jersey since 2016, and son, would be disproportionate. ‘We therefore decline to recommend that the defendant should be deported,’ he said.
Speaking after the hearing, Detective Sergeant Lynda Mckenna of the States police said the shop workers had faced a ‘terrifying ordeal’.
‘Thankfully crimes such as these are very rare in Jersey,’ she said. ‘But we will always do everything in our power to bring these offenders to justice and take a robust and zero-tolerance stance to crimes of violence.’
Jurats Charles Blampied, Robert Christensen and Elizabeth Dulake were sitting.