An armed robber who targeted two businesses within minutes of each other in a desperate attempt to raise cash to pay off his brother’s drug debt has been locked up.

Donovan Hackleton was stabbed and slashed when drug dealers turned up at his home demanding he settle his brother’s £12,000 debt, a court heard.

The 30-year-old was taken to hospital for treatment before becoming aggressive and assaulting two police officers on July 29 this year.

Less than a month later, Hackleton walked into a Tesco Express shop armed with a ‘potato peeler’ before demanding cash from staff.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant fled empty handed following the attempted robbery at the store in Normanby, Middlesbrough, on August 19.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said the defendant then turned his attention to T-Style Barbers in Normanby, where he threatened a female member of staff before stealing cash from the till.

The court heard how Hackleton grabbed the woman’s mobile phone before dumping it in a nearby bin.

Mr Abrahams said: “He demanded she hand over the money from the till, the defendant demanded that she hand over her phone.”

In a victim impact statement, the said the robbery had left her traumatised and is still off work as a result of the mental impact it had on her.

The Northern Echo: Donovan HackletonDonovan Hackleton (Image: Cleveland Police)

Hackleton, formerly of Oaklea Walk, Middlesbrough and latterly of Hambleton Crescent, Marske, pleaded guilty to robbery, attempted robbery, possession of a bladed article and three counts of assault on an emergency worker.

Gary Wood, mitigating, said his client carried out the successful and failed robbery in a desperate bid to raise money to pay off his brother’s debt after he was attacked and slashed across the stomach.

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He told the judge that the drug dealers continued to apply pressure to the Teesside man when they set fire to a house across the street from Hackleton’s mother’s home after the got the wrong address.

Recorder Ashley Serr said: “You went out to steal to pay off the drug debts – you could have alerted the police to your predicament but you didn’t.”

Hackleton was jailed for a total of five years for all offences after he turned to armed robbery to clear his brother's debt.

The judge added: “This was a very nasty offence on shop assistants simply doing their job and being threatened with a knife and told to hand over cash.”