Thug who threatened to shoot shop workers jailed for three years

John Cammock (left) and Michael Birch
John Cammock (left) and Michael Birch

A HOODED thug who threatened to shoot shop workers during a booze and drug-fuelled robbery has been jailed for three years.

One of John Cammock’s two victims said “her whole life flashed before her eyes” after he said he had a gun and demanded cash.

He also warned he would return with a saw-off shotgun as her colleague fled to a stockroom.

His accomplice Michael Birch later revealed Cammock had been holding a piece of brick beneath his jacket as the pair held up the store.

Durham Crown Court heard Joanne Abbott and Rachael Lavelle were just about to close Booze Busters, in York Road, Peterlee, when the men came in.

Cammock, who had his hood up and sunglasses on, demanded they put money in a bag as he made repeated threats he would fire at 10pm on Saturday, February 4.

While Miss Abbott remained “frozen to the spot” with fear, her colleague shut herself in the stockroom and used its phone to call police, shouting to the thieves officers were on their way after Cammock banged on the door.

Police found the men drinking lager on the street a short time later and arrested Cammock, but Birch ran off.

Cammock, 24, denied the robbery when questioned, but Sunderland-born Birch, 25, handed himself in a week later saying he was sorry for what he had done.

Both were given three year jail terms after admitting robbery.

Ms Rippon read a statement from Miss Abbott which said: “My whole life flashed before my eyes and I honestly thought it was a gun,” adding she wished her colleague had handed over money so the ordeal had come to a quick end.

Stuart Graham, mitigating for Cammock, explained he suffered from depression and started taking drugs at 14 as he struggled to deal with tragic circumstances in his life.

Jane Waugh, mitigating for Birch, said the robbery had been Cammock’s idea and said police only knew the full account of what they had done because he handed himself in.

Birch told officers he had armed himself with a metal bar, but decided to leave it behind, and Cammock had picked up a brick on the way after losing a knife.

She added Birch, of Tees Close, Peterlee, had started an NVQ in catering since on remand and hoped to join the French Foreign Legion.

Cammock was also sentenced to a further three months in prison after police found 17 plants in his home in Malvern Close, Peterlee, after his arrest.