A knife-wielding robber who threatened a shopkeeper and demanded cash has avoided jail because he has epilepsy.

Lyam Ridley, 31, admitted threatening Mihir Amin, a worker at Cellar Plus, in Whitmore Way, Basildon, with a 7ins blade.

Mr Amin, 44, used a stool l from behind the counter to keep the knifeman at bay and refused to hand over any money.

As he appeared at Basildon Crown Court for sentencing, Ridley, of Gobions, Basildon, collapsed in the dock during a suspected epileptic seizure.

Judge Adrian Williams QC took pity on him, suspended his 18-month prison sentence.

Jumoke Hughes, mitigating, said Ridley was addicted to class A drugs at the time of the attempted robbery on Saturday, July 11, and had been put up to it by a friend.

She said: “Ridley’s health has deteriorated somewhat, specifically his epilepsy. He is currently staying with family in Norwich as the level of seizures he is experiencing at the moment, he needs to stay with his family.”

Ridley, who left Cellar Plus empty handed, was identified and later arrested after police released CCTV stills of the incident, Sentencing, Judge Williams QC told him: “Robbery is taken extremely seriously by the courts, particularly an attempted robbery which involves the use of a weapon.

“The victim of this particular robbery feared for his life.

“A period of imprisonment is inevitable in almost every case, but having regard to the particular circumstances in this case, in that the defendant pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, is a man of good character and has a number of health difficulties, I am willing to suspend the sentence.”

Ridley's sentence was suspended for 18 months.

He was also ordered to complete a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Mr Amin said he was disappointed with the sentence.

He said: “I think he deserves to go to jail. He came to rob me with a knife.

“Anything could have happened to me, I could have died and they are giving him a chance to do it all over again.

“I am worried that he will do it again.”

He added that the incident had left him with long-lasting psychological effects.

He said: “I am still a little bit scared to work, it still worries me.

“At the time I just grabbed the stool because it was next to me. The adrenalin just kicked in, I wanted to protect myself.”