TWO bungling robbers left a hotel night porter traumatised after they threatened to douse him in petrol when they targeted the luxury venue.

Brett Riddell and James Regan drove all the way from Birmingham to carry out their late night robbery of Judges, on the outskirts of Yarm.

The pair donned balaclavas before ringing the bell at the hotel at around 3.10am on November 28, to get the attention of the night porter.

Initially, he ignored the call but their persistence resulted in the man opening the door to the robbers who barged past him and demanded he open the safe while threatening him with an open canister of petrol they were holding in a carrier bag.

After being told the keys for the safe were not on site, the pair broke into a tool shed before returning to the hotel and restarting their failed attempt to steal from the safe.

The night porter eventually persuaded them to take alcohol from the hotel and leave, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The Northern Echo: Judges Country House Hotel, near YarmJudges Country House Hotel, near Yarm

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said: "They forced their way in and they had with them a can of petrol, and top was off it, and they told the man to not scream or raise the alarm because if he did they would douse him in petrol."

He said they loaded the stolen booze in the rear of their Skoda Octavia before attempting to make their getaway but were arrested by police near Wetherby with the 'loot' still in the boot.

Mr Hadfield said that Riddell was the man who came up with the idea to target the hotel after he worked there on day release in 2002 whilst serving a prison sentence for robbery at the nearby Kirklevington Prison.

The court was told that the robbery had left the night porter so traumatised that he quit his job just four days later as he couldn't face working alone at the isolated hotel on his own.

A personal impact statement read out to the court, said: "It has had a massive impact on my personal life, I have trouble sleeping and have flashbacks and I often think what might have happened on that night."

The owner of the hotel said the robbery had not only cost it money to replace the stolen items but it also could potentially lose them customers after they heard about the incident.

Riddell, 40, of Waterslack Road, Doncaster, and James Regan, of Hawfield Grove, Birmingham, both pleaded guilty to robbing a man of cash, a phone, tools and alcohol all worth £3,700 on November 28 last year.

They also both admitted having an offensive weapon – the petrol can – at the hotel.

Susan Hirst, representing Riddell, said the planning and execution of the robbery was almost 'comical' as they 'really didn't know what to do once they got there' after making a 'monumentally foolish decision' to drive from Birmingham.

And in mitigation, for Regan, Sam Faulks said his client was not the brains behind the robbery and they failed to get away with the money they wanted.

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed Riddell for six years and his partner in crime, Regan, to three years, telling them the night porter 'must have been terrified'.

He said: Riddell, you have to take full responsibility for this, you had the idea, you knew the hotel and you got Regan involved in this."