Man gets 40 years for robbery, beating

Published 8:04 pm Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Suffolk man was sentenced to 90 years in the penitentiary Thursday, with 50 years suspended, for the robbery and beating of a store clerk in March 2008.

Albert Chevelle Thorne, 30, already has been sentenced to 30 years for similar crimes in Hampton, and is awaiting sentencing on more offenses in Chesapeake and Norfolk.

On March 16, 2008, Thorne entered the Karen’s for Kids store at 1429 N. Main St. and pretended to shop. He then asked the clerk, Carolyn Tompkins, if he could use the restroom. Tompkins directed him to the restroom at the back of the store. After a few minutes, Thorne came out and told Tompkins that the toilet had overflowed and there was water on the floor, according to prosecutor Bob Sandwich.

When Tompkins went to investigate, the man grabbed her and forced her into the restroom, hitting her on the head with his fists. He then forced her to lie on the bathroom floor while he taped her hands, feet and mouth with duct tape.

Thorne left the back room to tell customers that they would have to leave the store because the owners were not there, and he was trying to fix a plumbing problem. One woman became suspicious because Thorne was not dressed like a plumber and was acting strangely, so she went across the street to Wal-Mart and called police.

When police arrived, Thorne was gone, but they got Tompkins out of her bindings. She had suffered a bloody nose, as well as bruising on her face, head, wrists and ankles. The man had taken $80 from the register and $120 from Tompkins’s purse, as well as a number of girls’ dresses.

A concerned citizen in Portsmouth called police several days later and reported that a man matching the suspect’s description was at her housing complex trying to sell girls’ dresses. Portsmouth police arrested the man, and police recovered dresses from Karen’s for Kids, as well as a roll of duct tape.

Judge Carl E. Eason sentenced the man to 90 years in prison, with 50 years suspended, and ordered that he be on supervised probation for an indefinite period of time upon his release. The sentences in Hampton and Suffolk will run consecutively, for a 70-year active sentence so far. Thorne currently is in the Chesapeake jail awaiting his sentencing there. Once all his sentences are handed down, he will serve them in state prison.