A SAMURAI sword-wielding attempted robber who burst into a Nisa local in broad daylight and demanded cash was today jailed.
Lee Amess hit the cash register with the weapon twice before fleeing when the shopkeeper told him that he recognised his voice.
“I know who you are,” he told him.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, the shop owner, who sometimes brings her young son to the shop, said she was left ‘shaken’ and ‘disturbed’ by the incident.
She said: “I dread to think what might have happened if he had been with me that day.”
After around 15 seconds, Amess, of Victoria Road, South Shields, left the shop with a scarf wrapped around his face and his hood up, with the 3ft-4ft blade still in his possession.
Police were alerted and he was arrested near the store in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, after the attempted robbery which happened.
Amess, 21, was later identified by the shopkeeper in an identity parade and the weapon was recovered.
Mark Guiliani, prosecuting, said the shopkeeper wanted to see Amess be jailed for his crime.
He said: “He left the shop empty-handed, but he was in possession of a weapon and was wearing a disguise, which are aggravating features of this case.”
Vic Laffey, defending Amess, who pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, told the court that he had suffered from severe mental health problems, including anxiety and paranoid schizophrenia.
He said he could have been in the midst of a psychotic episode when he committed the crime.
He added: “This defendant had a troubled childhood. He witnessed the abuse of his mother by her partner and was taken into care at the age of six.
“His dealing with psychiatrists sadly began aged just 10.
“He is improving dramatically while in custody, and has taken part in a detoxification programme.”
Judge Penny Moreland jailed Amess for four and a half years for the raid, which happened in July last year.
She said: “You have a bad record of convictions for dishonesty and criminal damage.
“You armed yourself with a sword and went to a convenience store in South Shields.
“You demanded money, but you were chased from the premises by the shopkeeper.
“The staff were frightened by what you did, and people living in the area saw you in the street, armed with a sword.
“You clearly planned the robbery and were disguised by pulling your hood up, and your scarf was over your mouth.”