An assistant at a Rugby gaming arcade was kicked to the head by a robber who had tricked her into opening a cash machine less than 12 hours after he had carried out a burglary.
But a CCTV operator spotted Krzysztof Stankiewicz running out with his haul – and tracked him to another shop where he was arrested shortly afterwards.
Stankiewicz, 30, of Emily Smith House, Roseberry Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for a total of four years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of robbery and burglary.
Prosecutor Tom Schofield said that at 9.40pm on July 30 a man was upstairs at his home in Wood Street, Rugby, when he heard noises from downstairs.
As he went down to investigate he saw a figure running from the property holding a torch, and found that two phones were missing from where he had left them.
But he also found the intruder had left behind a rucksack containing clothes, documents with Stankiewicz’s name on them – and the two phones.
He called the police, but before Stankiewicz had been traced, he went into the Cashino gaming arcade in North Street, Rugby, at 7.30am the following morning.
The premises is open 24 hours a day, but at that time of day the only member of staff on duty was a 51-year-old woman who had worked through the night and was due to finish at 9am.
Stankiewicz, who had been in and out of Cashino for a while that morning, playing the gaming machines and asking for change on a number of occasions, asked her for more change.
She went over to the change machine, which she needed to open to get some cash out, and she had to kneel down to unlock it.
Suddenly, while she was on her knees, Stankiewicz punched her twice to the head, knocking her to the floor where he then kicked her to the head, causing a cut and bruising near her eye.
He then reached into the machine and took around £350 in cash before running from the premises.
But a CCTV operator had spotted him emerging and was suspicious, so followed him with the camera to the New Bilton Food Store in Edward Street, where he was arrested, said Mr Schofield.
When Stankiewicz was interviewed he made ‘a full and frank admission’ to both offences, including admitting that he had kicked the woman in Cashino as well as punching her.
He said he had only entered the UK on July 18 and had found a job straight away, but had lost it after five or six days and needed money to send back to his family in Poland.
He added that he had suffered the tragedy of his wife committing suicide before coming to this country, which had led to him abusing drugs.
Stankiewicz’s solicitor Jamie Strong was told by Judge Richard Griffith-Jones: “Both offences pass the custody threshold.
“Where violence is applied to someone who is vulnerable where they are working by themselves, it seems to me that for the robbery the starting point has to be five years.
“For the burglary the starting point has to be 18 months, but he has pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity and will get a full one-third discount.”
Mr Strong responded: “He knows what I was going to say; but if that’s Your Honour’s view, I don’t propose to take up any more of your time.”
Giving Stankiewicz credit for his pleas, Judge Griffith-Jones jailed him for 40 months for the robbery, with a consecutive eight-month sentence for the burglary, and ordered him to pay a compulsory £900 criminal court charge and a £120 victim surcharge.
The judge told him: “You have suffered misfortune in losing your wife, and you came to England to make a fresh start.
“But you have made a bad job of it. Within the space of 24 hours you committed two serious offences.
“The first is burglary when you have gone into someone’s home, when they are there, to steal their property.
“Next you committed a robbery where you realised there was a middle-aged woman by herself responsible for the protection of the money in the premises.
“You took advantage by way of trick, and when she made herself still more vulnerable by having to kneel you then used unpleasant violence upon her before taking £350.”