Shop worker feared for his life after robber carried out terrifying knife raid
A robberÂ who armed himself with a knife and threatened to "cut" a shop worker before making off with Â£500 from the till has been jailed.
James Cooper left the teenage shop worker "shaking" after the terrifying raid on Washington Wine and Convenience, in North Avenue, Washington.Prosecutor Jessica Slaughter told Newcastle Crown Court how 36-year-old Cooper went to the shop at around 2pm on April 5, and stole nine cans of Oranjeboom beer.The defendant then returned to his mother's house where he took a kitchen knife, before telling family members that he would either kill or rob someone.Miss Slaughter said: "There was a kitchen knife taken from his mother's property."He had returned to the store at 3pm."He entered the store drinking a can of Oranjeboom and removed a large kitchen knife from the sleeve of his hoodie."He said 'I am going to cut you out, I have been in a mental school for 10 years."'You have 10 seconds to pay me the money from the till or this is going in you'."Miss Slaughter explained how the terrified shopkeeper withdrew Â£500 from the till and handed it to Cooper - before he made off with it.She added: "Police arrested him at home. A quantity of cash was found inside a Wellington boot at his house."The victim was scared and frightened for his life."In a statement, read out by Miss Slaughter, the victim said: "I have been in England for one year."Before, I lived in Afghanistan where I saw serious crimes taking place."I thought I would be safe here."The defendant, who has 37 previous convictions, including 28 for theft, made no comment when interviewed.But after a psychiatric report was prepared, he admitted charges of theft, possession of a knife and robbery.Gavin Doig, defending, told the court how his client suffered from mental health problems.The barrister said: "He is much improved since he has been in custody."He is an enhanced prisoner. He has had no complaints."He has been given enhanced prisoner status."He is on three types of medication and these are working for him."He has here committed a serious offence but his record is not as serious as at it appears at first. He is a repeat nuisance offender, but there are no convictions for serious violence or offences of this sort."Judge Simon Batiste jailed Cooper, of Kenilworth Court, Washington, for four years.The judge said: "You fall to be sentenced for three offences. The facts of these offences are extremely worrying."You went into your local shop and stole an amount of beer without paying for it and came back later that day and armed yourself with a knife."Before you left you made threats that you were going to kill or rob someone."That worried your family to an extreme that they called the police."It must have been a terrifying incident for the victim. Clearly it has had an affect upon him."You are someone with significant mental health problems. That is not an excuse."You must understand that if there is any repetition of this you will be facing a very long and indeterminate sentence."I am drawing back from imposing an extended sentence upon you."