A WOULD-BE robber threatened to set fire to a petrol station before committing a “creep in” house burglary nearby, a court heard.

Jacob Grant Chambers went out seeking money to buy pills and cocaine on the morning of the mini-offending spree, on Sunday February 20.

Durham Crown Court was told that an assistant was working alone at the Gulf Southside Filling Station, in Yoden Way, Peterlee, when the kiosk was approached by a male who threatened to set it alight, at 6.20am.

Demanding money, as a threat he poured some clear liquid into the night serving hatch, but the distressed assistant immediately pressed the emergency alarm button, which alerted the police, so Chambers left.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said a man living in a nearby street was making his way to the station and saw the defendant leaving with his face covered.

On his return a few minutes later that same witness discovered his home had been entered and someone had taken his partner’s purse containing £30 and a bank card, as she and a young child slept upstairs.

It emerged the intruder had been upstairs into the child’s bedroom and moved items.

The householder spotted the defendant, the same man he had seen leaving the filling station, outside his home and gave chase.

Mr Sabiston said Chambers shouted to him: “Come on then you c**t,” and threw two gas canisters plus a snood he had been wearing, in his direction, before running off.

The stolen bank cards were later recovered from beside a nearby shed.

In her victim statement, the filling station assistant said the incident had left her, “on edge”, having never previously encountered anything of this nature in seven years in the job.

She said she, “genuinely thought the place was going to blow up”, when Chambers poured the clear liquid into the night hatch.

The householder was angry and agitated at the theft of the money and purse by someone known locally as “Chimp”.

Chambers, 22, of Moutter Close, Horden, admitted attempted robbery and burglary.

The court heard he has a record featuring theft and several burglaries, both commercial and domestic.

Ian West, for the defendant, said it was accepted he would be receiving a custodial sentence.

“The background is that he was taking pills and cocaine with a number of others and they needed more money for more drugs.

“He was prevailed upon to be the one to go to the garage.

“He was completely unprepared to commit a robbery and it was on the spur of the moment that it was committed.

“The liquid he used was, in fact, water, but it was the best he could think of in the time available.

“It was a pretty pathetic attempt to commit a robbery.”

Mr West said having failed to get anything from the filling station he moved on to commit the opportunistic burglary.

Passing a four-year prison sentence, Judge James Adkin told Chambers: “This was a bit of a crime-spree while high on drugs at 6.20am.”

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He said the attendant at the garage kiosk would not have known that what the defendant poured into the hatch was only water.

“She panicked and pressed the alarm button and you ran off empty-handed.

“You, then, went on to commit a creep burglary.”

He imposed three years for the attempted robbery and added 12-months for the burglary but made the sentences consecutive.

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