A knife-wielding gang dressed in onesies were sent packing by a brave shop assistant during an attempted raid.
Sixty-five-year-old Janet Coxon, who had worked for 22 years at the Hartlepool newsagents, thought at first it was a joke because of the teenage raiders’ dress sense.
One was in a Superman onesie and another wore a monkey onesie, and both had tiger face masks.
While they threatened her with large knives demanding money, the third wore a hoodie as he guarded the door.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told Teesside Crown Court there were no other customers in the Bungalow Convenience Shop in Stratford Road, Hartlepool, when they walked in at 3.50pm on May 1.
Superman, who was Connor Kinnersely, 18, said: “We want money”, and he had the knife at arm’s distance away from her.
Anyone entering a shop carrying knives I am afraid has to expect a custodial sentence.Judge Peter Armstrong
Miss Haigh said: “She thought she recognised the voice and believed it was just a prank, and she reached out and tried to pull the mask from him.”
He moved backwards as she said: “I know who you are”, and the monkey, a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, demanded: “Give us the money”.
Miss Haigh added: “She told them that there was no money, adding: “Just get out, there is no money.”
All three then left the shop and she still did not know if it was a joke, but she became frightened, and when the owner arrived she told her what had happened and the police were called.
Police checked CCTV cameras in the area and they found footage of them removing the onesies and the masks, which led to their arrests.
The third would-be robber Callum McKie, also 18, had 10 convictions for 14 offences.
Andrew Teate, defending Kinnersley, said he was appalled by his behaviour. When he saw the state of the assistant, he persuaded the other two to abandon it.
Conor Quinn, defending McKie, said that the fact that Ms Coxon thought it was a prank showed that they lacked any real menace.
Jim Withyman, defending the juvenile, said: “It could possibly be described as an idiotic episode.”
The judge told them that there had to be sentences of immediate custody.
Judge Peter Armstrong said: “Where knives are carried it is impossible to overlook the offence and deal with it in any other way than an immediate custodial sentence.
“I am afraid I take the view it was done in a proper attempt to obtain money and then it was abandoned.
“Anyone entering a shop carrying knives I am afraid has to expect a custodial sentence.”
Kinnersley, of Roseberry Road, Hartlepool, and McKie, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, were both sentenced to 30 months’ detention in a young offender’s institution, and the juvenile, also from Hartlepool, was given an 18-month detention and training order after they all pleaded guilty to attempted robbery.