A GOOD Samaritan who came to the aid of a terrified betting shop worker robbed by a man wielding an axe has been jailed for helping to plan the raid.

Alexander Millar, 21, received a £100 voucher from Ladbrokes for ringing the police and comforting the female manager after the robbery at the shop in Ann's Terrace, Darlington.

But it later emerged Millar had planned the raid with housemate Shane Lowther, 23, who burst into the bookies wearing a balaclava just after 8pm on September 16 last year.

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Both men were jailed for the robbery at Teesside Crown Court on Monday (May 19) with Recorder James Brown telling the pair he held both equally responsible.

Adrian Dent, prosecuting, said Millar was already in the shop when Lowther entered with the axe.

"He gave the appearance of being a customer - he regularly frequented betting shops.

"All of a sudden Lowther came into the premises wearing a balaclava, wielding an axe and carrying a bag.

"He told the manager to put the money in the bag - she was extremely frightened."

Believing Millar was a customer, the manager asked him not to leave her as she filled the bag with cash totalling £475 and gave it to Lowther.

The manager pressed the panic button and Lowther shouted to Millar to hold the shop door to stop it from locking shut automatically.

Mr Dent said Millar stayed with the manager and called the police for her.

He remained in the shop and gave his name and address to officers.

Millar returned to the shop that night to claim £134 he had won on a gaming machine before the robbery.

He was later given £100 in vouchers by Ladbrokes for being "so public spirited", the court heard.

Lowther was arrested after he confessed to family members and they reported him.

Millar claimed he was not involved, but he was convicted after a jury heard the men shared a house in Gladstone Street, Darlington.

Both men have numerous previous convictions, the court was told.

In 2010, Millar was sent to a young offenders' institution for 18 months for his part in a failed brothel scam.

The defendant and a female accomplice planned to rob a punter who had replied to an advert in a national newspaper.

But Millar was left blooded and in tears when the man they tried to trick turned out to be a burly soldier.

John Turner, mitigating for Millar, said his client had largely addressed a drugs problem but still had a gambling problem which had left him with large debts.

Stephen Andrews, for Lowther, said the defendant had written a letter of apology to the shop manager.

"He knows exactly what he did - the seriousness of the situation is not lost on him," Mr Andrews added.

Millar was sentenced to six years in prison, while Lowther, who was given credit for his guilty plea, was jailed for four years.

Recorder James Brown told Millar: "It was particularly disgraceful that you pretended to be a good Samaritan when in reality you were fully involved and up to your neck in the scheme yourself."

Speaking to both men, he added: "You can be under no illusion that this was a very serious offence committed against a vulnerable target."