A MAN who robbed a shop as a 'joke' has been warned that he is facing a custodial sentence.

Bradley Younger demanded that a woman shopworker hand over cash from the till before realising what he had done and handing the money back to her.

It is alleged the 31-year-old entered the One Stop store in Norfolk Place, Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough, armed with a hammer on Friday, May 15, at around 11am.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Younger regretted his actions and accepted that he would be facing a prison sentence.

Robert Mochrie, Younger's defence counsel, urged the judge to adjourned the case to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be prepared to deal with the 'unique circumstances' of the offence.

"He handed the money back or at least a significant proportion of it," he said. "He was intoxicated at the time, this was a joke, obviously a very misplaced joke, which got out of hand, which is why he handed most of the money back."

The court heard that when the till was totted up at the end of the day it was £40 down and that was the only money that was missing.

Mr Mochrie added: "This is an unusual factor in this case. Due to the unique circumstances involved in this case, I would request a pre-sentence report is prepared."

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, told the judge that a victim impact statement had not been collected from the woman in the shop and did not oppose the defence application.

Judge Jonathan Carroll told Younger that the offence cleared the custody threshold and warned him that custody was still the likely outcome after the pre-sentence report was compiled.

He said: "I'm only agreeing to a pre-sentence report because I'm having to adjourn it anyway.

"You have pleaded guilty to this matter, clearly a serious matter – robbery of shops are always taken seriously."

The case was adjourned until October 12 for sentence.