A GANG of drug addicts have been jailed after storming a newsagents and stealing the till drawers containing about £100 in change.

The three, who have more than 100 convictions between them, have been sent to prison for three years and nine months after robbing Martin’s newsagents in Felmores End, Pitsea.

On February 17, 31-year-old Tessa Burkes, of Travers Way, Pitsea, scouted the shop before it even opened at 7am.

Once the door was unlocked, the shopkeeper noticed her enter the shop immediately and described her as acting suspiciously.

Waiting outside was David Bird, 34, of Walthams Place, Pitsea, and Carl Simmons, 38, of no fixed address.

After Burkes scouted the shop, the two men stormed in with their hoods up and wearing balaclavas and demanded the shopkeeper get into the back of the shop.

In CCTV footage shown to the court, Simmons can be seen jumping over the counter and then proceeded to rip the drawers from the tills and handed them to Bird before the three of them made their escape.

The court heard the three were traced after officers recognised Burkes from the shop’s CCTV.

Further intelligence gathering by police officers linked her with Simmons and Bird and the three were found at Simmons’ mother’s address in Pitsea.

They were wearing the same clothes and the till drawers were found in the bin behind the house.

The court heard all three, who are all addicted to class A drugs, were heavily convicted for theft and other dishonesty offences but only Simmons had a previous conviction for robbery.

Sentencing the gang at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, judge John Lodge said: “This was a group attack on a vulnerable woman operating a shop in the early hours of the morning.

“Three people entered the shop – two disguised with balaclavas and hoods – and demanded she take herself into the back.

“The shop was then plundered and tills and scratchcards were taken.

“To say that this does not cause more than minimal psychological damage or detriment to the business does not give proper affect of what one knows.

“The shopkeeper said ‘I believe I would be harmed if I did not do as they told me to’.

“Businesses who operate in residential areas with long operating hours are incredibly vulnerable.”

Judge Lodge sentenced them to three years and nine months in prison after they admitted one count of robbery.

Simmons also admitted one count of handling stolen goods after officers found him wearing a watch that had gone missing after a domestic burglary in Basildon the day before. He was handed an additional six months to run consecutively.