A ROBBER who brandished a syringe at a shop manager has started a prison sentence.
Dale Andrew Smith, 24, walked into Asda South Bank in with the needle in his pocket and filled a Bag For Life with food for himself and rum to order.
When the deputy store manager said “put that down”, he took the syringe out and held it towards him, saying: “I’ve got a needle.”
The manager slipped and lost his footing as he tried to avoid the needle’s point, Teesside Crown Court was told on Friday.
Smith left with his stolen shopping, knocking into a shelf of alcoholic drinks causing £100 damage while fleeing.
He shouted at staff “I’ve got a needle” as he exited the store at 12.40pm on August 14.
Shop worker tackled armed raider
One worker tackled the armed raider, bringing him to the floor, but he got up and ran out towards the A66 underpass.
He bolted through a man’s sheltered accommodation home, saying: “I’ve just been caught shoplifting. Can I cut through?” He was arrested three days later.
The deputy manager said in a statement that regular shoplifters were “getting out of hand” and he did not come to work to be threatened with a needle.
Smith, of Coulthard Court, South Bank, confessed to police, saying he had been asked to steal the booze.
He said he was homeless, penniless and “having a bad time”, using drugs and his only way to survive was to commit crime.
He told officers he had problems with his mental health and if he did not get help he “may do something serious”.
35 previous offences on his record
He later admitted robbery and having a bladed or pointed article.
He had a previous record of 35 offences including burglary, theft, vehicle taking and blade possession, but no previous convictions for robbery.
John Nixon, defending, said: “The defendant accepts it will be an immediate custodial sentence today.
“He’s a young man undoubtedly with issues that didn’t help his frame of mind when he committed these offences.
“There is some responsibility on him to get his own house in order. He understands that.
“There is no mitigation to offer apart from his age. I ask you to impose the shortest term possible.”
Robber thanked judge as he was sent to prison
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Smith: “You’ve got a very bad record, 35 offences, over a comparatively short period of time.
“You’ve stacked up a long list of previous convictions over 10 or 11 years.
“This was committed in daylight hours when members of the public were present.
“You’ve had a very bad life, a sad life, and you’ve been addicted to drugs.”
He jailed Smith for two years and four months.
Smith, appearing in court via video link to Durham Prison, responded: “Thanks judge. Thanks very much.”