Hammer-wielding robber jailed after 'terrifying' Haverigg post office raid

Paul Czernozekow, 42, was caught on CCTV as he entered the Haverigg store at around 10:30am on 26 May this year. Credit: Cumbria Police

An armed robber who used a hammer to smash a protective screen at a South Cumbria post office before vaulting the counter and stealing cash has been jailed.

Paul Czernozekow, 42, was caught on CCTV as he entered the Haverigg store at around 10.30am on 26 May this year.

Czernozekow, brandishing a hammer, told the lone male sub-postmaster: “Give me all your money.”

He then ferociously attacked a Perspex counter screen, causing it to shatter.

The sub-postmaster ducked away from the screen, activated an alarm and fled to a private storage area of the post office, holding the door shut at its thickest point in case the robber tried to batter it with his weapon, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Czernozekow was seen jumping over the counter and fled with £380 in £1 coins.

The post office worker emerged after the robber had fled from the premises.

“There he saw a scene of considerable destruction,” said prosecutor Tim Evans.

“There was shattered Perspex everywhere and the cash drawer was open. He describes the incident as absolutely terrifying,” said Mr Evans.

The man had stated: “It is something you expect to see on television and not in the area in which you live.”

One cash bag had been discarded nearby by Czernozekow, who went on to burgle a Tesco store in Millom on the night of 12 June.

He was later arrested in the East Midlands and when brought to the crown court in Cumbria, admitted robbery, offensive weapon possession and burglary.

He also pleaded guilty to five burglaries and five thefts committed during a spate of offending at an ASDA store in Derbyshire between 25 July and 18 August. His £1,700 loot included vacuum cleaners, televisions and meat.

The court heard how after criminal conduct and drug abuse more than a decade ago, Czernozekow had moved to Cumbria and turned his life around. He had a good job and a loving family, but after a gym accident he began taking opiate painkillers, and relapsed into heroin use and offending.

“I’ve now ruined my own life and lost my family,” he wrote in a letter to sentencing Judge Nicholas Barker, who described the note as “heartfelt and thoughtful”.

Judge Barker said of the Millom raid and sub-postmaster: “It is a small village. It is a small community in rural Cumbria. No doubt he thought it was going to be just another day.

“He showed remarkable composition of mind and courage. It was a vivid and terrifying ordeal.”

Czernozekow, latterly of King Street, Millom, was jailed for a total of 38 months by the judge.

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