ARMED raiders who terrified shop workers with a foot-long machete have been jailed for a total of 10 years.
Balaclava-wearing Aaron Currell smashed the blade down on a display stand in the McColl’s store, in Brierton Lane, Hartlepool, and demanded cash, cigarettes and a bottle of Bacardi.
Stephen Young stood guard at the door with his face hidden by a hood and a scarf as a shaken Karen Brackstone and Lyndsey Brown handed over what they could.
The robbers got away from the store, but were quickly pinpointed as suspects by the police, although the men had already done all they could to hide any evidence.
Currell asked his girlfriend at the time, Stephanie Ryan, along with her friend, Danielle Best, to burn the clothes they wore during the raid, before hiding the machete in snow in November last year.
But all four were arrested and eventually admitted playing a role in the crime on November 30 last year.
Currell, 21, was sent to prison for four-and-a-half years and Young, 30, got a longer sentence of five-and-a-half-years due to his longer history of offending, after both admitted robbery.
Ryan, 19, and Best, 19, both admitted assisting an offender and were given 12-month jail terms, which were suspended for 12 months.
Robin Turton, prosecuting, said: “It was 9.48pm and Karen Brackstone and Lyndsey Brown were both preparing to shut the store and were cashing up the tills.
“Currell ordered them to hand over the cash, shouting ‘give us your money’, but was told they had already cashed up.
“He pulled out a machete from his trousers and struck it on the display in front of the desk and demanded all the money there was, but there was little. He also demanded 60 cigarettes and a bottle of Bacardi.”
Store supervisor Lisa Bousfield told the Mail at the time: “It was a terrifying experience for the staff.This is a terrible thing to happen at any time, but especially at night.”
The court heard “intelligence” received by police quickly pointed them towards Currell, of Bruntoft Avenue, Hartlepool, and Young, of the town’s Irvine Road.
Currell was then picked out during an ID parade and Best, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, and Ryan, of Lomond Avenue, Billingham, both explained their involvement to police.
The court heard both men “greatly regretted their actions” and felt “deeply shamed” by what they had done.
The women were said to be “appalled” and “genuinely remorseful” for the part they played.
The judge, Recorder Benjamin Nolan QC, said: “The victims were intimidated.
“The fact I have imposed severe sentences on the two male offenders show that I take this matter extremely seriously.”