A WOMAN who drunkenly robbed a newsagent at a knifepoint has narrowly avoided jail.

Gemma Snook, 24, was with a pal when they held up Martins Newsagents, in Clay Hill Road, Basildon, on June 8.

The pair started a row with a female shop assistant about the Post Office being closed on a Sunday.

They then jabbed a knife at her face and ordered her to hand over about £50 from the till.

It was revealed in court this was the second time the worker had been robbed while at work in the last six months.

Snook, who has 21 previous convictions dating back to when she was 15-years-old, was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Detectives are still hunting for 24-year-old Kim Orford, from Basildon, in connection with the incident.

The court heard the employee was working alone when Snook and another woman entered the shop.

The other woman began shouting at the worker because the Post Office was closed.

The staff member went behind the till because she felt threatened. Snook and her accomplice then went in to one of the aisles and started whispering and swearing to each other.

Snook went to the door to keep guard while her accomplice put her hood up, went to the till and jabbed a knife at the employee.

Laureen Husain, prosecuting, told the court: “It took the shop assistant a few seconds to realise what was happening.

“The woman was jabbing a knife at her and threatening her.

She thought she could be seriously hurt.

“She was terrified. In fact the word she used was ‘petrified’.

“The girl said, come on or else I will throw the knife at you.”

Snook and her accomplice got £20 in notes, as well as £30 in coins.

In a victim impact statement, the employee said she felt concerned about being on her own and working alone.

She did not know if she wanted to continue working for Martin’s because it is the second time she has been the victim of a robbery in six months.

Matthew Bone, mitigating, said Snook had turned to drugs and a life of crime after a difficult childhood.

Recorder Elroy Claxton said: “I understand from your pre-sentence report, that if given some assistance you may be able to lead a life free of drugs and crime.

“If you breach this suspended sentence order you will come back here and I will have absolutely no choice but to send you to jail.”