Two men who robbed a convenience store at knifepoint have been jailed for a total of 12 years.
Anthony Phillip Keenan donned a mask and threatened a lone woman shop assistant with a knife while accomplice Leroy Rosario acted as lookout.
The terrified shop assistant sank to her knees, shaking, after Keenan left the store with cash from the till and cigarettes.
“It appears the robbery caused her to suffer a panic attack,” prosecutor Paul Newcombe told Teesside Crown Court.
“She clearly found the experience very distressing, as did another woman who was in the store at the time.
“She reports still being nervous about going into shops.”
Keenan and Rosario approached the Pear Deals convenience store in Oxford Road, Hartlepool at about 8.15am.
“Rosario hangs around outside,” said Mr Newcombe. “Keenan enters the store and puts on a mask after walking up and down a couple of aisles.
“With a 12-inch bladed knife in his left hand, he approaches the till area and demands money from the shop assistant.
“He threatened to stab her if she didn’t tell him where the safe was, but she said there was no safe.
“Keenan rifled through the till, then picked up as many packs of cigarettes as he could carry before leaving the store.”
Keenan, 38, of no fixed abode, and Rosario, 39, of Lister Street, Hartlepool, both admitted robbery and possession of a bladed article on November 8 last year.
Martin Scarborough, defending Keenan, said: “Prior to this offence, he had not long been released from a 15-year sentence for aggravated burglary.
“Mr Keenan found it difficult to settle on the outside after such a long sentence, but he accepts it was his decision to commit this robbery.”
Andrew Teate, defending, Rosario, said he played a lesser role in the robbery.
“Mr Rosario did not enter the shop,” added Mr Teate.
The Recorder, Mr Dafydd Enoch QC, sentenced Keenan to seven years in prison and Rosario to five years.
“This was a serious robbery which was terrifying for the shop assistant,” said the recorder. There is not much between the pair of you in terms of culpability.
“It is a tragedy that you, Mr Keenan, have spent most of your adult life in prison.
“Bland expressions of remorse at this stage do little to help either of you.”