AN apprentice painter and decorator was yesterday (July 2) jailed for three years after using an axe to rob a village store yards from his own home.

Cannabis addict Marcus Richardson was clad in black and his face was partially covered as he sauntered into the convenience store in Brompton, Northallerton.

After loitering for a few minutes the 20-year-old walked up to the counter and pulled out the axe, threatening the woman assistant.

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“The raised axe was thrust towards her numerous times while threats were made and it must have been extremely frightening," said Jessica Strange, prosecuting.

"She was scared and shocked and genuinely thought he was going to use the axe. ”

She added that Richardson - who lived very close to the shop - only lowered the axe after grabbing £340 worth of notes and coins from the till.

Richardson initially denied robbery of the Northallerton Road store on April 22 last year but later changed his plea to guilty at Teesside Crown Court. He also admitted having an offensive weapon.

CCTV footage showed Richardson strolling into the store shortly after 4.20pm and, after a few minutes, going to the counter before raising the axe and telling the terrified assistant to ‘Put the f****** money in the bag’.

Miss Strange added: “This was obviously a planned offence with the carrying of the weapon and the way he was dressed with a scarf and all in black.”

The court heard Richardson, who has two previous convictions for criminal damage, was addicted to smoking cannabis and had been a “difficult” teenager.

He looked on sheepishly from the dock as the video was shown to the court, at one point dabbing away tears.

Kieran Rainey, mitigating, said Richardson, of Water End, Brompton, acted out of desperation after a drug dealer he owed money to threatened to smash the windows of his mother’s home if he did not pay up.

“He had a debt of £300 to £350," he said. "He panicked and made an extremely short sighted decision. He committed a terrible offence which was out of character for him.

"He is absolutely insistent he would not have used the axe and would have run off if challenged.”

The barrister claimed Richardson had “grown up” while living in a bail hostel and also referred to a probation report which said the apprentice painter and decorator was a reduced risk if he stayed drug free and gained financial independence through a job.

Jailing Richardson for three years, Judge Peter Bowers told him the impact of such a robbery was “enormous” and said Richardson would have seen the effect it had on his victim.