Man who pulled out ‘deadly’ machete at Wetherby petrol station in front of ‘terrified’ young Burger King employee jailed for 22 months

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Steven Norton, 51, had parked at Moto Services in Wetherby with a trunk full of potential weapons including an axe, arrow and a pair of disassembled shears, York Crown Court heard.

He then entered the gas station and walked to the Burger King counter where a 21-year-old woman was assisting another customer, prosecutor Rob Galley said.

CCTV footage of the incident appeared to show Norton talking to the woman and pointing at something behind him.

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Steven Norton, 51, jailed for 22 months after pulling out a machete in the middle of Wetherby petrol station

Then, without warning, he pulled a “murderous-looking” machete from his coat and brandished it as the “petrified” woman staggered backwards.

Norton, who was wearing a black cap and Covid mask, then appeared to “bott it up” and walked past shoppers, including children, who were blissfully unaware of what had happened until a young Quick-thinking woman hears the Burger King worker ‘shouting and yelling’ at co-workers, then sees Norton taking a ‘light jog’ as he leaves the mall and walks towards his 4×4 vehicle.

Mr Galley said the 20-year-old woman named ran after Norton and took a picture of his license plate as he removed his mask and left the car park.

She alerted the police and gave them the registration number which they used to trace the 4×4 to an address in Pershore, Worcestershire, where officers found the vehicle parked in another man’s drive.

Mr Galley said Norton sold the vehicle to the unsuspecting man to ‘distance himself’ from the crime after driving south after the machete incident.

The named car buyer showed them the weapons he had found in the trunk, including the machete.

Norton denied that the other items – including an axe, shear blades and an arrow – were weapons and were used for gardening.

The prosecution ultimately accepted his claims as there was “no evidence” that they were intended for use as weapons.

Further police inquiries traced Norton to an address in Durham, where he lived with his wife.

He was arrested two days after the incident and brought in for questioning.

Norton told officers he was low on cash when he showed up at the gas station and was ‘trying to get credit’ for fuel, but later claimed it was of a case of mistaken identity.

CCTV footage showed he had not refueled his car, Mr Galley said.

He said the incident, on November 5, 2020, left the victim “absolutely petrified”.

She initially thought he was trying to shoplift, but then he “reached into his coat (and) she saw some handles.”

“She thought it might be a gun,” Mr Galley added.

“He removed the object from the coat and raised the machete in front of him. It’s on his chest. (The victim) backs up well.

“Within moments he fled and (he) still had the machete out.”

Norton, of Billy Row, Durham, was charged with a fight and six counts of possession of a bladed item.

He eventually admitted to fighting and carrying a machete, but denied five other allegations of possession of an offensive weapon. Not guilty verdicts were entered for these cases.

He appeared for sentencing today (Friday May 20) in a state of anxiety knowing jail was all but inevitable given his record, which includes three previous convictions for carrying a stabbing weapon or 2005 offensive, at namely a bolt knife, a samurai sword and a hand. chopped.

Mitigating Brian Russell said: ‘It’s very difficult to describe exactly what Mr Norton was trying to do (at the petrol station).

“He didn’t seem to have any money – maybe his long-term goal was to extort money.”

Mr Russell said Norton had changed his life since the incident and at the time of the offenses he was “struggling with his relationship” and had substance abuse issues.

He added that Norton, who previously worked in welding and fabrication, was looking to find a new job.

Judge Sean Morris said Norton had “absolutely terrorized” the young woman who was “working hard during the pandemic to earn a living”.

He told Norton: “You had armed yourself with a deadly weapon – a machete, for heaven’s sake – and walked through a busy shopping mall, a gas station where there are members of the public around, and what did you have in mind, I wonder?

“It’s probably more likely than not that your intention was to get the money, but you ultimately decided against it.

“Wielding a lethal-looking weapon like this could only be intended to raise fears of very serious violence.

“Anyone who walks into a busy mall and produces a weapon like this can expect nothing but immediate jail time because the courts must deter others.”

Norton was jailed for 22 months and he will serve half of that sentence behind bars before being released on a prison license.

The judge said he would award £250 of public funds to the brave woman who ran after Norton and obtained his number plate, which proved vital to the police investigation.

He said the woman, from Newcastle, would be invited to receive a commendation from the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire at Crown Court.

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