Horsham robbery: attack on female police officer by man in balaclava was 'truly terrifying'

Two female police officers who were attacked by an armed robber at a Horsham petrol station have said the ordeal was 'truly terrifying'.

Owen Smith, 29, was jailed yesterday for robbing Tesco Express at Redkiln Way with a wheelie bin and carrying out a ‘harrowing’ attack on a police officer. Click here to read the original story.
The court heard how, instead of running away, Smith grabbed PC Young and threw her out of her police car. He tried to drive the car away but was arrested.

CCTV captures the moment Owen Smith - wearing a balaclava - attacked the police officer in the drivers' seat. Pictures and video: Sussex Police

CCTV captures the moment Owen Smith - wearing a balaclava - attacked the police officer in the drivers' seat. Pictures and video: Sussex Police

READ MORE: Judge says Horsham Tesco robber poses ‘significant risk’ to the public
Statements from the two officers and a member of Tesco staff who was threatened during the robbery were read out in court.

PC Canales said: "The fact that instead of getting out of there this large male decided to threaten us with a bat whilst wearing a balaclava was truly terrifying.

"When they couldn’t get the car to start he could have run away but he did not.

"I did not know if he just wanted our car or if he was going to hurt us.

Owen Smith was jailed at Hove Crown Court yesterday

Owen Smith was jailed at Hove Crown Court yesterday

"I do wonder if he decided this was an option seeing it was two female police officers in the car.

"I can say that no other incident in my 14 years as a police officer has had this effect on me.

"I spent the first seven days [after the assault] with this incident on loop in my head during my waking hours.

"For some cigarettes and money these men were prepared to threaten extreme violence.

"This was about greed and making some quick money."

PC Young said: "Since the robbery and assault I have not been the same person I was before.

"I have been back at work and certain jobs that did not used to worry me now do.

"I hope I will get the confidence back."

In his statement from earlier this year, the member of Tesco staff said: "Looking back I am not sure what I was feeling at the time.

"I was scared but I felt quite numb.

"It was hard to believe it was actually happening.

"Since the incident I have not been able to sleep. I think this will take a little while to sink in."

Defence counsel Sebastian Gardner acknowledged that Smith's actions were a 'serious offence'.

He said: "It is important to remember the intention toward both of these officers was not to hurt anybody.

"Throughout that struggle he did not seek to assault either of these officers by means of a strike of that weapon he had brought to the scene.

"He is a young man with a number of difficulties. He simply does not recognise what he does under the influence of drugs."