Brave Walker shopkeeper overpowered and disarmed drunk knifeman who tried to steal from him

Gary Smith, jailed for knife threats and attempted theft
Gary Smith, jailed for knife threats and attempted theft -Credit:Northumbria Police

A brave shopkeeper disarmed a drunken knifeman who threatened him with a blade while trying to steal from him.

Gary Smith, who had drunk six cans of cider and half a bottle of rum, went into the Best One shop, on Welbeck Road, Walker, Newcastle, in the middle of the day on April 11 this year. He had been banned from the store and the owner repeatedly asked him to leave.

Sophie Johnstone, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: "The defendant tried to steal a bottle of vodka from behind the counter but was prevented from doing so. A colleague rang the police and the defendant pulled out a knife - it appeared to be a kitchen knife.

"The complainant hustled with him and got control of the knife and removed it from him. Despite this, the defendant continued to remonstrate with him and some glass bottles of cider were smashed."

Smith, 44, of Farne Terrace, Walker, who has 166 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to threatening a person with a knife and attempted theft. He was jailed for 14 months.

Recorder Simon Eckersley told him: "In the middle of the day on the 11th of April, when the victim was doing no more than trying to eke out a leaving in the most difficult of times you, significantly in drink, entered his shop armed with a knife, intending to steal from him, to steal enough alcohol to meet the needs of your alcoholism.

"You pulled the knife out and threatened. That's very serious indeed because you know, and people must understand, people carrying knives out in public is a blight on society.

"People carrying knives sometimes ends up with serious consequences. When you carry a knife it's very simple to pull it out and once out it's very simple to be used ad it's very simple to cause injury. When someone is injured with a knife it's more a matter of luck than judgement if serious injury is caused."

Mark Harrison, defending, said: "He had been a regular customer up to a fairly recent falling out leading to him being barred. He is, sadly, an alcoholic.

"Mercifully, nobody was hurt and he was quickly and bravely overpowered. The shopkeeper was brave in his approach toward the defendant.

"The defendant describes his behaviour in the pre-sentence report as disgraceful. He is rightly ashamed of the way he reacted in the store. This is out of kilter with his usual misbehaviour."