Chip shop regular jailed after bungled robbery attempt

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A regular customer at a fish and chip shop who turned up after closing with a knife and tried to rob it is behind bars for more than five years.

Paul Durkin, 29, fled empty handed after the staff at the Billingham premises refused to open the till.

But when they followed him outside he turned and chased them with the kitchen knife, forcing them to bolt the door in terror to protect themselves.

Durkin, who had a previous conviction for robbery with a knife, blamed the incident on a drinking binge after the breakdown of his relationship with his partner and their children.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told Teesside Crown Court that Durkin first appeared at the back of the building at 10.30pm on January 30 asking a member of staff if they had any sausages.

He was told that the shop was closed but moments later he was caught on CCTV as he burst into the premises in Windlestone Road, Billingham, armed with the knife.

He shouted to the staff "open the till" and he tried to pull the till off the counter and then he threw it onto the floor.

Later when he chased them back into the shop he was shouting "I'm going to kill you".

Miss Haigh said that one of the staff said in a victim impact statement that he was frightened for his life.

Another said that he was shaking and he feared that he might get stabbed.

Durkin was hooded but they recognised him as a regular customer although they did not know his name.

Alex Bousfield, defending, said that Durkin was devastated by the effect of his behaviour. His partner and family wanted nothing more to do with him.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told him:"Those people who run fish and chip shops, takeaways and cafes and the like are vulnerable to people who take drugs and drink to excess like you.

"It's not the first time that you have used a knife in an attempt to commit a robbery."

Durkin, of Horden Road, Billingham, was jailed for five years and four months and he was given a restraining order banning him from the shop and the road for 10 years after he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possessing a knife.