AN Italian restaurant worker who robbed a Plungington off-licence has pleaded guilty to his crime after five years on the run.
Francesco D’Elia, 31, was flown back to the UK after being arrested on a European warrant in Berlin.
D’Elia, who previously worked at The Italian Orchard and Tiggis restaurants in Preston, was thought to have returned to Italy after he failed to turn up at Preston Crown Court in 2009.
Now, five years after he absconded he has pleaded guilty to the robbery at The Bottle and Basket in Blackpool Road.
D’Elia was originally caught following a CCTV appeal in the Evening Post.
The robber, who slammed a baseball bat on the counter and demanded the till, was spotted going to wash his hands in the Withy Trees pub after cutting his hands trying to prise open the machine - leaving DNA evidence at the scene.
A woman whop was working alone in the shop when D’Elia made his threatening demands, was left shaken and upset.
D’Elia made off with £160 cash and the till was later recovered in a back alley close by.
Det Con Ian Best, said: “The woman who was working there was very shaken.
“When D’Elia failed to attend Preston Crown Court we made some inquiries at the restaurants he had worked at and it seemed as though he had returned to Italy.
“We issued a European Arrest Warrant and he was caught in Germany.
“He was detained over there and our officers went out to bring him back.”
D’Elia, of no fixed address, was arrested when he arrived at Heathrow Airport.
He will be sentenced on May 22.