A MAN who brutally attacked a petrol station cashier with a hammer has been jailed for three years after he turned himself in to the police.

Police had suspected Michael King, 40, after the raid in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and had arrested him and searched his home in Swindon. He denied being involved and was released because police did not find enough evidence against him.

But three months later King's sense of guilt and remorse got the better of him and he went to a police station and confessed.

At Gloucester Crown Court King, formerly of Swindon but now of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to robbing Pandlan Elangovan at a petrol station in London Road, Stroud, on June 3 2017.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC asked to be given an explanation for why the case had taken so long to be brought to court – almost two and a half years after the offence.

The judge was told that at around 3am on June 3 2017 two men wearing balaclavas entered the garage and attacked Mr Elangovan with a hammer and a knife before making off with £688 in cash and a bottle of Bacardi.

Prosecutor George Threlfall said the knife was pointed at the cashier by an unknown intruder who demanded that he hand over money.

He added: “Mr Elangovan tried to defend himself and was hit by King with a hammer, beginning a sustained and prolonged attack by the two men.”

Mr Elangovan sustained injuries to his hand and head and was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol and released later that morning.

Mr Threlfall added: “Mercifully the cashier was not seriously injured, but he has since disappeared and we have been unable to trace him.

“King was identified on June 7 that year by police officers attending an unrelated incident in which they noticed he was wearing the same shoes as he had done for the attack and had blood on them.

“He was arrested and a search made of his home address.

"Police officers found wet clothing that had been taken out of the washing machine and included a tracksuit with a distinctive white stripe. King gave a no comment interview to the police and no action was taken."

King gave a no comment interview to police but Mr Threlfall said he had a 'guilt complex' and three months later handed himself in, admitting his part in the robbery. The other intruder still remains at large.

“King stated he needed the money for drugs as well as having a debt to the travelling community,” added Mr Threlfall.

Mr Threlfall concluded: “The victim has since disappeared, but at the time he would have been vulnerable working through the night on his own.

“This was a prolonged attack to which Mr Elangovan did his best to resist.”

The court was told that King is currently serving a custodial sentence for carrying out a similar robbery in Swindon, which post-dated the Stroud offence.

Defending Robbie Ross said: “King presented himself at the police station in September 2017 to give himself up on his own accord. He made a full admission to his part of the events of June 3 at the petrol station.

“But what should have happened is that he should have appeared at the local magistrates' court there and then.

“In fact it was a postal requisition some months later before he was summons to Cheltenham Magistrates' Court on May 22, 2019. The offence goes back some considerable time.

“It would have been better if the sentencing judge in King’s subsequent robbery in March that he could have dealt with the two cases together.

“However, being in custody for the past six months has enabled King to address his drug problem. He has also entered into educational courses and is excelling as an artist.

“He was given a chance to turn his life around 10 years ago after surviving a knife attack after which he ‘died twice’ on the hospital’s operating table after suffering 77 stabbings in which he nearly lost his foot.

“However on release from hospital King returned to his life of drugs.

“His time in custody has been a wake up call for him as he has embraced this opportunity to turn his life around and is looking forward to a drug-free future.”

Judge Ian Lawrie QC said to King: "You’ve had a bad history of drug addiction. You moved from burglary to robbery to get more money to feed your habit.

“But sentencing you so long after your admission is a fault of the system and an absence of joined up thinking.

“This was a particularly unpleasant robbery. You were armed with a hammer and your unknown accomplice had a knife.

“It took place at night. The victim was vulnerable and there was some planning involved as you went armed with weapons and disguised yourself.

“However you are making clear strides to improve your life. Only time will tell if you are successful.

“What is of particular note in a case of this gravity is that you volunteered to approach the police and you admitted to them about your involvement in the robbery.

Judge Lawrie sentenced King to three years in prison and ordered that he pay a victim surcharge of £170.

“I am striking a balance between punishing you and recognising some of the issues that have risen in this case,” concluded Judge Lawrie.