Hartlepool drug addict held screwdriver to female shop worker's face during terrifying robbery

A drug addict held a screwdriver to a female shop assistant’s face during a terrifying shop robbery.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:45 am

Heroin user John Donaldson, 52, backed the frightened woman behind the counter of the Best-One shop, in Oxford Road, Hartlepool, before stealing £280 from the till.

The brave worker tried to stop him but was told to lie on the ground, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Donaldson, who has a long criminal record, was jailed for three years at a sentencing hearing on Monday after pleading guilty to robbery.

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John Donaldson was jailed for three years for robbery.

Describing the incident on August 20, Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said Donaldson, who was wearing a black face mask backed the shop assistant behind the counter and told her to open the till.

He was holding a screwdriver in his right hand.

Ms Haigh said: “He held the item forcibly to her left cheek and held on to her jumper sleeve.

"She said she was terrified and opened the drawer as a result.”

John Donaldson (inset) robbed the Best-One in Oxford Road.

She tried to stop him as he grabbed a handful of notes from the till and attempted to come out from behind the counter.

Ms Haigh added: “He blocked her in and said ‘get on the floor and I won’t hurt you’.

"She said it felt like it lasted a lifetime but it was no more than five minutes.”

In a statement read in court the victim said: “I was terrified throughout the whole incident.”

She added she felt “helpless” and did not know what he might do to her.

Donaldson, of Miers Avenue, Hartlepool, has been in court 68 times before mainly for theft and burglaries.

His lawyer Stephen Littlewood said: “From the age of 15 he’s been in the grip of a severe heroin addiction.”

Mr Littlewood said Donaldson owed £1,400 to drug dealers who had threatened to kill him.

"It was out of desperation in his situation that he did this,” he said. “He is truly sorry for the harm that he’s caused.”

Sentencing him, Recorder Nathan Adams said: “There’s very little that can be said in the way of mitigation for this offence.

"This will have been an absolutely terrifying incident for the shop assistant.”

Donaldson was told he must serve up to half the sentence before he will be released on licence.

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