Drug addict jailed for Upper Holloway knife attack

DR Mart, on Holloway Road

DR Mart, on Holloway Road - Credit: Archant

Terrified shopkeeper pinned against a wall by ‘desperate’ blade-wielding junkie

A drug addict has been sentenced to five years in prison after knifing a Upper Holloway shopkeeper during an attempted robbery.

Victim Samsul Islam told a court that Michael O’Leary, 35, of St John’s Grove, Archway, asked him if he was a Muslim and then said: “I’d love to kill a Muslim” before attacking him.

O’Leary, who claimed to be high on cocaine and desperate for money, said he couldn’t remember if he had made the racist remark and was cleared of attempted murder by a Blackfriars Crown Court jury on Wednesday last week.

But he had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful wounding – one of them relating to an attempted robbery two hours earlier at a shop in Camden.

CCTV footage played at the court showed Mr Islam sitting behind the counter at DR Mart in Holloway Road watching a film as O’Leary burst into the shop wearing blue latex gloves and pointing a large blade at him.

After the victim was pinned up against the wall, he grabbed the blade – sustaining knife wounds – and was pulled to the floor where his attacker began to beat him.

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At Blackfriars Crown Court on Tuesday, O’Leary was sentenced to five years for assault to rob and wounding Mr Islam, and a further three consecutive years for the earlier attack, in which the Camden shopkeeper also sustained a knife wound to his hand.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Clarke QC said: “There was a desperate struggle; the knife used was more substantial than its predecessor. The blade appears to have been bent, demonstrating the desperation in which Mr Islam grasped that weapon with what he believed to be an attempt to save his own life.”

He added: “The effect on these two shop keepers has been devastating.”

Defence barrister, Ross Cohen, said O’Leary was “deeply sorry”, adding: “He is still a young man who has an enormous amount of promise; he is clearly an intelligent young man who deeply regrets what he has done. His subsequent incarceration has been the biggest wake-up call and the longest drug-free period in his life.

“He hopes to become a fully productive member of society, a loving father and a decent individual.”