Robber jailed for armed raid

Carl Gilgun was given an indeterminate sentence for an attack on the Londis Shop on Chorley Old Road in Whittle-le-Woods
Carl Gilgun was given an indeterminate sentence for an attack on the Londis Shop on Chorley Old Road in Whittle-le-Woods

‘Now we can move of with our lives.’

That was the view of the husband of a brave Chorley shopkeeper after the robber who struck on the head with an imitation handgun was jailed indefinitely.

Bhagya Solanki, 50, suffered a horrifying attack on November 10 last year when Carl Gilgun, 28, entered the Londis shop on Chorley Old Road in Whittle-le-Woods and threatened to shoot her.

He also pointed the firearm at her head and hit her three times with the metal base of the gun, resulting in a 3cm head injury.

Gilgun, formerly of School Field, Bamber Bridge, escaped with around £800 cash, but DNA later that his victim’s blood was on his training shoe.

He was given an indefinite jail term and a judge at Preston Crown Court set his minimum term as three years and three months. He will only be released when he’s no longer considered a risk.

Speaking after the sentence, Bhagya’s husband Dhansukh Solanki, 55, said: “It was a horrendous experience for her. She has been going to the doctors and family and friends have helped to get her through it.

“It is great news that he has been locked up and she will now have more courage that he won’t come back to do it again.

“It has been a nightmare for us and we have increased security so that two members of staff are in the shop at night. The police were excellent in trying to catch the person.”

During the court case, CCTV footage of the incident was played at the sentencing hearing where the judge praised the bravery of the victim.

The court heard that Gilgun, an ex-soldier, was assessed as having a personality disorder.

He had pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and having an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Gilgun had appeared to be hanging around outside before entering the shop with his hood up and pointing a gun at the woman behind the counter, said Mr Paul Brookwell, prosecuting.

He held the gun towards her head and told her: “Give me the money or I’ll shoot you.”

The woman managed to take out a metal tray containing change and throw it at him.

Gilgun headed towards the door and the woman went to try and shut the door behind him.

He pushed the door open, resulting in her falling to the floor, striking her head on the side of the counter.

Mr Brookwell added: “He put his foot to her left foot, pointed the gun at her head and struck her head with the metal base of the handgun at least three times. It cut her head and made it bleed.”

Gilgun was arrested eight days later.

The court heard that the woman and her husband had owned the shop for 20 years.

Gilgun told police he had been suffering mental health problems and could not remember what he had recently been doing. He had previous convictions.

His barrister Ken Hind told the court it had clearly been a very traumatic event for the woman and her family, but Gilgun’s early guilty plea had saved her having to relive in court what happened.

“He would apologise in person if he possibly could to the woman. He has written a letter to the court”, said Mr Hind.

“It makes it very clear he deeply regrets what happened. He appreciates the fear he must have engendered in her.”

Mr Hind said that Gilgun’s personality disorder was mostly due to his abuse of substances from an early age. Drug abuse appeared to have destroyed the defendant’s army career.

The judge, Recorder John Bromley-Davenport QC, told Gilgun in passing sentence: “On any view, it was a most terrifying ordeal. The woman showed very considerable courage facing up to you.

“You have shown yourself to be a man who does and will resort to violence when crossed.”