A WOMAN who staged a brazen knifepoint robbery, which left a petrol filling station assistant terrified, was jailed for six years.

Joanne Metcalfe, who posed as a customer, tricked her way into the secure kiosk of the St Giles station, in Gilesgate, Durham, and threatened to slit the throat of the female assistant unless she opened the till, shortly after 6am, on August 24.

Durham Crown Court heard the assistant fled into the main body of the shop.

When a customer entered he believed Metcalfe, who was behind the counter loading bags with money from the till and packets of cigarettes, was a member of staff.

The court was told, “cool as a cucumber”, Metcalfe carried on filling her bags and told the confused customer the sobbing woman had, “not taken her medication.”

Metcalfe then left with her bags of “shopping” which she hid nearby.

But she was soon arrested and the bags were recovered from a wheelie-bin, while £35 was found hidden in her bra.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said asked about remorse, she told police: “Whatever, it’s not my problem.”

A statement from the assistant stated that if not for financial necessity she would have quit her job, and now fears every person walking into the station shop.

Metcalfe’s record of 24 convictions for 81 offences includes a previous conspiracy to rob for which she has served a prison sentence.

Ben Pegman, mitigating, said at the time of the robbery Metcalfe had psychiatric issues and was living in hostel accommodation, not far from the filling station.

He said through the summer her mental health “deteriorated”, but she self-medicated on a mixture of drugs, which meant she has little recollection of events.

While in custody, Mr Pegman said she has worked with the intervention team and, “got drugs out of her system”, and, “in the cold light of day” is now remorseful for her actions.

Metcalfe, 39, of Churchill Square, Gilesgate, admitted robbery and possessing a bladed article.

Recorder David Kelly told her: “It’s quite shocking the calmness with which you executed the robbery.

“You were as cool as a cucumber when the customer came into the shop, carrying on what you were doing.”

Indefinite restraining orders were put in place prohibiting Metcalfe from contacting or approaching the victim or going onto the forecourt or shop at the station.