A KNIFE-WIELDING robber who targeted a Chinese takeaway in Kendal fled empty-handed after he was confronted by two workers armed with meat cleavers. 

The terrifying but failed robbery was committed by drug-addicted 21-year-old Josh Roelants, who just weeks earlier had robbed a 17-year-old girl in the town as she walked into a shop by barging into her and grabbing her handbag.

The defendant, from Windermere, admitted robbery and attempted robbery. His co-defendant Elliott Bryan, 18, found carrying the bank card taken during the earlier street robbery, admitted handling stolen goods.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Ben Stanley outlined the facts.

He said Roelants committed the attempted robbery on October 23 last year when he walked into the New Fortune Chinese Takeaway at Highgate, Kendal, with his face hidden beneath a mask. 

Brandishing a large knife, he told the woman working behind the counter to give him money that was in the till.

Her husband and one of his colleagues, working in a back room, saw what was happening via a CCTV monitor and, arming themselves with meat cleavers, they rushed to the shop's counter area to confront the knifeman.

“The defendant made his exit from the takeaway, without taking any money,” said Mr Stanley. In victim impact statements, the couple who run the takeaway, where they also have living quarters, said they no longer felt safe.

The woman spoke of previously feeling that Kendal was a safe place to live and work and somewhere suitable for her and her husband to bring up their child.

They had been thinking about a move to Manchester but now felt that if they were not safe in Kendal they could not feel safe anywhere in the UK.

They are considering returning to China.News and Star: Roelands targeted the New Fortune Chinese Takeaway

The earlier robbery that Roelants admitted happened on August 26 last year as the victim was about to walk into the Tesco store in Kendal.

As the teenager approached the front door, somebody subjected her to a “powerful” shoulder barge before grabbing her handbag.

“She saw two males running away,” said Mr Stanley. She had the presence of mind to call her mother to ask her to cancel the bank card that was in her handbag.

The purse it was in also contained around £150 in cash.

In a statement, the 17-year-old victim said she was now afraid to go outside with a bag for fear that the same thing may happen again. She spoke of feeling extremely anxious when out in Kendal.

“I have had panic attacks while walking home,” she said, adding that she no longer felt safe.

Bryan, of Lund Road, Kendal, was charged after police caught up with him the following day and found he was carrying the teenager’s stolen bank card.

He claimed that a female had given it to him, but he could not remember the circumstances because he had been taking drugs.

Anthony Parkinson, for Roelants, said that when he was about to leave primary school the defendant had inadvertently discovered that he was adopted. Soon after this, Roelants began taking cannabis, moving on at the age 14 to sniffing cocaine.

“By the time he was 19 or 20, standard cocaine doing the job and he moved on to crack cocaine,” said Mr Parkinson. By 2023 the defendant was completely "off the rails", funding his drug and alcohol use by stealing from people and using violence.

His adoptive parents remained supportive, and his intention was to join them in a different part of the county and start his afresh, free of drugs and alcohol, when he is released.

Andrew Evans, for Bryan, said the teenager had experienced more trauma by the time he reached 18 than most people face in a lifetime, but he was willing to engage with the Probation Service.

The defendant was now abstinent from the substances he had previously taken to blot out bad memories.

Recorder Julian Shaw told Roelants that he traumatised the couple who ran the takeaway, they never expecting to experience such an ordeal in Kendal.  “It’s clear that you have lost your way. You have had the love and support of your family.

“And this is how you have repaid them.

"They support you now; their love for you is unconditional. You should be thoroughly ashamed of what you have put them through; and for the trauma you have caused your victims.”

He jailed the defendant, of Park Avenue, Windermere, for three and a half years.

The Recorder told Bryan: “If you go about committing robberies, you go to custody, but I have to deal with you not for robbery but for handling stolen goods.”

He imposed a 12-month community order with eight rehabilitation activity days and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the sentencing, Police Constable James Winder, working within Kendal & Eden CID, said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the victims of the attempted robbery, who were simply doing their job, and thankfully no one was hurt.

“I am pleased with today’s sentencing and hope this sends a clear message to anyone making a conscious decision to carry a knife and use it to intimidate members of the public.

“These types of offences are completely unacceptable, and we will do everything we can to bring criminals to justice.”