A ROBBER who threatened to cut a shopkeeper’s throat has been jailed for more than two years.

Lewis Merrington, 22, of Gainsborough Drive, Westcliff, pleaded guilty to robbing Big News Store, in Eastern Esplanade, Southend, on April 24.

Southend Crown Court heard howMerrington walked into the shop at 6.30am and bought a packet of crisps.

CCTV footage showed a hooded Merrington walk away before returning to threaten the shopkeeper.

Hiding a 9in knife he found in an alleyway up his sleeve, Merrington said: “I’ve got this here, I’ll cut your throat. Give me money.”

He then made off with £40 from the till.

After a police appeal for information, which featured in the Echo, Merrington handed himself in having seen CCTV of the incident online.

Miss Laureen Husain, defending, said the robbery was “totally out of character” and Merrington was “disgusted” by his behaviour and said in interview “I’ve done what I’ve done and I have to face the consequences.”

Merrington, who is expecting his first child with his girlfriend in September, cried during his court appearance. His parents were there to support him.

Miss Husain said at the time of the robbery, Merrington had “left home, was essentially homeless, sleeping in his car, or sofa surfing and he owed money to friends. He was unfortunately drinking quite a lot and was taking cannabis.”

Recorder Matthew Lowe said: “It is with real sadness I have to sentence a 22-year-old from a good background for these offences, which were idiotic and out of character.”

Sentencing Merrington to 26 months in jail for robbery and six months to run concurrently for possessing a bladed article, Recorder Lowe said: “Small shops deserve the protection of these courts.

“There was a degree of planning.

If there wasn’t, you would not have put it (the knife) up your sleeve. There was some forethought.

“The most serious issue is the threat of serious violence. When you told the shopkeeper you were going to cut his throat, this was backed up and emphasised by the showing of the knife. He must have been terrified.”