A pair of armed robbers have been locked up after terrorising a shopkeeper and a taxi driver within hours of each other.

Christina Youll and Joanne Ballie armed themselves with knives before smashing their way into a shop minutes after closing time and stealing cigarettes and alcohol.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the pair threatened the shop worker after he came out of the stockroom to confront them.

Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said the pair used a brick to smash the door window before forcing their way into Booze Box in Hemlington, Middlesbrough.

“The man saw a big black knife in Youll’s hand and a smaller knife in Baillie’s hand,” she said.

“He was begging them to stop, he was putting his hands together and pleading with them.”

Miss Lamballe said the pair filled a shopping basket with cigarettes and alcohol before leaving the shop just after 10pm on February 20.

The Northern Echo: Christina YoullChristina Youll (Image: Cleveland Police)

The court heard how the pair then called a taxi to pick them up from Elmhurst Gardens, Hemlington, and take them, and another man, to the Asda in Stockton in the early hours of the next day.

Miss Lamballe said the two women went into the shop but came out shortly after and seemed to be arguing with a security guard.

The taxi driver then took them to Norton before returning to Hemlington to drop them off.

It was a this point that Youll produced a knife and held it to the taxi driver’s throat before demanding cash.

The driver got out of his car and Baillie started punching him to the face before taking £70 in cash, an iPhone and car keys.

Miss Lamballe said the taxi driver pleaded with them not to hurt him before they left the scene.

A few hours later the pair were arrested at a nearby property and Baillie bit an officer on the finger as they tried to detain her.

Youll, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to two robberies and possession of a bladed article.

Her co-accused, Baillie, of Fairfax Court, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to the same charges as well as three additional offences of assaulting a police officer.

The Northern Echo: Joanne BaillieJoanne Baillie (Image: Cleveland Police)

The court heard how the 42-year-old had kicked and spat at two officers when they responded to a call about her welfare in November last year.

Robert Mochrie, representing Youll, said his client’s drug addiction was the root cause of her offending and she had shown remorse for the robberies since she had cleaned herself up.

And Nicci Horton, representing Baillie, said she was remorseful about what she had done and was addicted to drugs at the time of the offences.

Judge Christopher Smith jailed Youll for five years and two months for all offences and Baillie for a total of five years and four months.

“The shopkeeper was locking up on his own when you forced entry to the shop and when he came to see what the noise was, he was confronted by the pair of you with hoods up and both armed with knives,” he said.

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“I have no doubt that he was terrified as you stood there.”

Dealing with the taxi driver robbery, he added: “One can imagine just how terrified he would have been in close quarters of his car as he was robbed.”

Speaking after the hearing, PC Romy Sargent, of Cleveland Police, said: “We take incidents like this extremely seriously and welcome today’s sentences, which will keep the women from causing further harm to innocent members of the public.

“The women’s use of weapons in these incidents is extremely concerning and behaviour like this won’t be tolerated. These were traumatic incidents for both victim’s and I hope that these sentences bring them some form of comfort.”