A WOULD-be knife-wielding robber was caught in the act when a passerby rushed to the help of a terrified shop worker.

Taylor Finlayson threatened the woman working in McColl's shop in Guisborough just before 6am on August 22.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 20-year-old had called into the shop to buy some sweets but his behaviour left the 56-year-old woman feeling unsettled by his behaviour.

He left the shop and stood in a bus stop before returning minuted later brandishing a knife and ordering the terrified shop worker to open to the till.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said: "He pulled out a large knife and shouted 'open the till, open the till' he then lunged over the counter and tried to open the drawer."

While the defendant was shouting at the woman, Tom Morgan ran into the shop to help her and held the defendant for up to 15 minutes until the police arrived. Actions that Judge Howard Crowson described as 'brave'.

Mr Hadfield added: "The woman was terrified, and the incident happened in front of distressed members of the public, including a 13-year-old boy who was in the shop.

"The defendant had hidden in his hood, a mobile phone and a face mask."

In a victim personal statement the woman told how the attempted robbery had impacted her life.

She wrote she thought she was going to die and still suffers from flashbacks and nightmares due to the trauma and thought she may never see her grandchildren again.

In mitigation, James Bourne-Arton said his client had taken a number of drugs before attempting to empty the till of the convenience store and said there was no pre-planning of the raid.

Judge Howard Crowson praised the actions of Mr Morgan and awarded him £250 for his efforts.

The Northern Echo:

Sentencing Finlayson, pictured above, the judge said: "You chose a moment when the woman was alone in the shop, you had gloves on and your hood up and you were carrying a large knife.

"She was terrified and in her fear she moved away from the till and that is what foiled you. You tried to get in with a knife but you failed.

"She was seen to collapse outside due to the stress of it. In her statement she said she was now anxious and tormented by what could have happened to her if Tom Morgan didn't come in to help her."

Finlayson, of Warwick Road, Guisborough, was sentenced to four and half years for attempted robbery and a consecutive 18-month sentence for possession of an offensive weapon.