AN uncle and nephew carried out a “truly terrifying” armed raid at a grocery store as part of a four-day crime spree, a court heard.

Anthony Peter Wood burst into Simply Food and Drink, in Peterlee, holding an imitation firearm, followed by nephew Marc Anthony Wood, at 8.15pm on June 9.

Durham Crown Court was told Anthony Wood pointed the handgun at the horrified assistant, demanding money, while Marc Wood picked up spirit bottles.

Sam Faulks prosecuting said they left the York Road store with the till drawer, dropping money as they went, but escaping with £94.95 and three bottles of spirits.

Mr Faulks said earlier that Sunday evening Marc Wood stole two bottles of wine and some lager from Costcutter in Sunderland Road, Easington Village, leaving the scene in a Silver Corsa car, which also featured as the getaway vehicle for the later robbery.

Members of his family later rang the Costcutter manager apologising for his behaviour, offering to reimburse the store for its loss.

But the crime spree did not end there as two days later Anthony Wood broke into a home in Acacia Avenue, Horden, after using a brick to smash French windows to gain access to the property, waking the grandson of the owner who was sleeping upstairs.

He was arrested two days later for dangerous driving, overtaking seven vehicles at speed before trying to reverse into a police car, on the A688 Bishop Auckland bypass.

The pursuit ended when his Mazda vehicle struck a tree. When he was brought from the car, he appeared unsteady on his feet.

Mr Faulks said Anthony Wood’s fingerprint was recovered from the scene of the store robbery and on the hand gun, which was found hidden under Marc Wood’s bed.

Both Anthony Wood, 49, and his 34-year-old nephew, each from Conishead Terrace, South Hetton, admitted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause a fear of violence.

Anthony Wood also admitted driving dangerously driving and without insurance but was found guilty of the house burglary after trial.

Marc Wood also admitted theft from Costcutter.

The court heard both have long records, mainly offences of dishonesty, but Anthony Wood’s past offending includes two previous robberies.

Ian West, for Anthony Wood, said: “All the latest offences happened within a four-day period.

“He seems to have gone of a reckless crime spree, starting with an armed robbery and working backwards from there.”

Jane Waugh, for Marc Wood, said his alcohol dependency is behind much of his offending, but the robbery was, “way out of his league” compared to his previous offending.

Jailing Anthony Wood for eight years and imposing a total sentence of four years, nine months and two weeks on Marc Wood, mostly for the robbery, Judge Jonathan Carroll told them: “This must have been truly terrifying for those on the receiving end of a highly realistic-looking weapon, being pointed at them.

“They simply did not know what you were going to do.”

Judge Carroll also banned Anthony Wood from driving for six years and ordered forfeiture and destruction of the firearm.