Masked McDonald's robber threatened worker with imitation gun before he was caught by brave taxi driver who snatched his loot
An armed robber who targeted a burger restaurant was caught by a taxi driver.
Christopher Crane used an imitation firearm to threaten a staff member at McDonald’s in Hartlepool.
He left with £95 cash but was followed by a taxi driver who was using the drive-thru facility at the restaurant, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Taxi driver Peter Thornhill, who was commended by the judge for his bravery, took the stolen money from Crane and returned it to the restaurant.
“Crane first walked into the restaurant as an ordinary customer just after midnight,” said Jenny Haigh, prosecuting.
“He bought two cheeseburgers before leaving.
“A few minutes later he returned, this time with a bandana covering the lower part of his face.
“He was carrying an imitation firearm and pointed it at the assistant, demanding cash.”
The court heard Crane left the restaurant with £95.
“The taxi driver was getting his food after finishing his shift,” said Ms Haigh.
“Looking through the payment window, he could see Crane and his bandana at the counter, thinking at first he was suffering from an infection.
“The driver asked the staff member what was going on and was told the place was being robbed.
“The driver followed Crane in his car, drew up alongside him, and told him to give the money back.
“Crane threw a couple of notes through the driver’s window. The driver took the bag from Crane, and returned it to the restaurant.
“He was also able to tell the police where the imitation firearm had been disposed of.”
Crane, 36, of Suggitt Street, Hartlepool, admitted robbery and possession of an imitation forearm, both on May 10.
Stephen Constantine, defending, said in mitigation: “This was not sophisticated or planned.
“He left with the money in the same bag as his cheeseburgers.”
Judge Howard Crowson jailed Crane for four years and six months.
He officially commended Mr Thornhill, and awarded him £250 from public funds.