A teenager who turned to drugs to cope with a family bereavement robbed a city newsagent to pay his debts.
Sunderland juvenile court heard the 17-year-old had entered Hylton Road News on July 9 and threatened shop assistant Kinna Patel with a knife.
Michael Rose, prosecuting told the court: “About 11.20am, the defendant comes into the shop dressed in black.
“His face is covered, apart from his eyes, by a scarf. He produced a knife from his pocket.
He read from the victim’s witness statement: “I became very scared. He said ‘Give me the money.’ I did as he said because I was very scared.
“I was worried he would hurt me or worse.”
Mr Rose told the court: “She feared for her life, so she gave him the money.” Angus Westgarth, for the boy, said he had been deeply affected by the death of a relative.
“He started to use drugs, first cannabis, then Mkat, with a lower peer group than he was usually connected with,” said Mr Westgarth.
“He ran up a drug debt of £200. He was not threatened, but he was asked very frequently and told that debt must be paid.
“He knew the persons concerned and knew what they had done before – pets killed, windows broken, beatings administered – and he was frightened.
“He realised he could not pay and rather than approach his mother or other family members, he decided to deal with it in this way.
“I have to accept there was some premeditation. A knife was produced and there was a scarf.”
Although the youth had taken a knife into the shop, the CCTV showed he had not actually pointed it at the victim.
“The witness says he was shown a blade but it looks to me as if the knife is never actually pulled out,” said Mister Westgarth
The teenager, who admitted robbery, had been haunted by guilt over the incident, said Mr Westgarth.
“He has obviously been very frightened. He has maintained his denials for a long time because he was very remorseful, but too frightened to put himself in the frame.”
District Judge Roger Elsey adjourned the case for reports and bailed the teenager to October 8.