A ROBBER who went on the run trying to evade store detectives was mocked by children who shouted 'run Forest, run' as he legged it past their school.

James Harrigan threatened staff at Morrisons with a 'large carving knife' he was trying to shoplift before being chased through the streets of Berwick Hills in Middlesbrough.

The 47-year-old reacted angrily to the Forest Gump abuse leaving teachers fearful that he would attack someone, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said a member of the public, John Welsh, bravely joined in the chase and attempted to detain Harrigan.

She said the drama started when Harrigan entered Morrisons, pictured below, at around 8.30am on October 9 and started putting items, including joints of meat, deodorant and the knife, in a holdall before attempting to leave the shop without paying.

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As he attempted to flee the scene, Harrigan ran past the River Tees Multi-Academy Trust school where he was greeted with a barrage of abuse.

Despite the concern of teachers, the court heard that at that point it didn;t appear as though Harrigan was carrying the knife.

Harrigan, of Fulbeck Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to robbery, affray and possession of an offensive weapon – all in relation to the incident on October 9.

The court hear the defendant has a long history of offending, with 54 convictions for 145 offences.

They included previous robberies, one where a grabbed a female student from behind and threatened her with a knife for her laptop.

Alex Bousfiled, mitigating, said his client had reacted badly to finding his best friend dead in the weeks leading up to the robbery and didn't set out that day with the intention of carrying out the serious crime.

He added: "Having been chased down, clearly he accepts that everything had clearly spiralled out of control in what had been originally intended on his part to simply be a shop theft.

"He made matters a whole deal worse by continuing to run and continuing to threaten."

The judge, recorder Alistair MacDonald, jailed Harrigan for a total of six years for robbery and two 18-month concurrent sentences for the other offences.

He said: "You pulled out of the bag a large knife which you had just stolen and threatened them with it saying 'come on, I'm up for it today'."