A ROBBER made a snap decision to threaten terrified staff at a supermarket in a desperate bid for drug money.

A brave ten-year-old boy managed to raise the alarm as Billy Sharp tore open the till at the Co-Op store in Nevendon Road, Wickford while holding a member of staff at knifepoint.

Sharp had been dropped off near the store by his step-dad following a row with his mother. The 37-year-old had demanded she give him money for drugs, but she refused.

His step-dad drove him away to stop the argument getting worse, but when dropping him off near the store, Sharp decided to rob the shop at around 6.30pm on April 27.

Prosecuting at Basildon Crown Court, Alex Matthews said: "There is an incident at the till where the defendant produces a blade with a black handle.

"He points it at the victim causing him to back into the corner area.

"He said 'don't f****** move, open up the till or I will stab you'.

"He ripped off the top of the till and stole notes from within.

Robber - Billy Sharp

Robber - Billy Sharp

"He had taken a few cans of gin and tonic out of the fridges, they were then fingerprinted and linked back to the defendant.

"A woman came to assist her colleague as the defendant is trying to exit, he brandishes the blade at her as well."

The ten-year-old boy witnessed all of this, and the incident was caught on CCTV. The boy ran to get the store manager to alert her.

Sharp, of Newlands Road, Wickford, confessed to police his offending was due to drugs, and that he had let the boy go in front of him "so he wouldn't get hurt".

In a victim impact statement from the man behind the till, he said that he had been left struggling to sleep, and when he returned to work the following week, he collapsed in the back room over anxiety and stress and had to be taken to hospital.

Mitigating, Sasha Bailey said: "He realises at the age of 37 this this drug us cannot continue, he accepts it very much has ruined his life."

Judge Samantha Cohen told Sharp: "The victim of the robbery was a man doing a job whilst at university to earn cash.

"He needed money, but he decided the best way to do it was to get an honest job and work hard for it, wholly unlike you."

Sharp was jailed for five years.