Two armed criminals who used an imitation firearm and a knife to rob a service station have been jailed for a combined 11 years.

Jack Knight, 44, and Grant Bolden, 39, were captured on CCTV entering the shop, in Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet, at 10.35pm on September 27 last year.

Knight was seen to immediately point a handgun at the cashier as he advanced towards the counter.

Accomplice Bolden brandished a knife as he leapt over the counter to demand money and cigarettes.

The footage shows the pair leave the shop a short time later at 10.37pm.

They took cigarettes worth more than £900 with them.

The incident was reported to Essex Police by the manager of the service station, who was alerted to the incident by his employee.

An investigation was swiftly launched and support put in place for the victim.

On 17 October, as part of ongoing enquiries, a CCTV appeal was issued by police and Bolden was identified as one of the people pictured.

Bolden himself called police to confirm he was one of the people pictured in the appeal, but at that stage denied being a part of any robbery offence.

Echo: Jailed - Jack KnightJailed - Jack Knight (Image: Essex Police)

Further work by officers, including analysis of the clothes the suspects were seen to wear, identified both Bolden and Knight as the perpetrators.

Analysis of mobile phones attributed to the pair showed incriminating messages further revealing their involvement.

During one exchange, texts on a phone attributed to Bolden saw a number of packets of cigarettes offered up for sale, reading: “I want £300 for them all. For 44 packs that’s a bargain.”

Officers raided addresses linked to Bolden and Knight on October 20, arresting both suspects.

At Knight’s address, officers recovered a black handgun – later established to be an air gun – matching the description of the weapon used in the offence.

Clothing worn by Knight and Bolden while they committed the offence were also recovered.

They each admitted a charge of robbery at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Knight, of Flitch Green, Dunmow, was jailed for four-and-a-half years when he appeared before a judge on 7 March.

Appearing at the same court on Thursday, Bolden, of Hunters Way, Saffron Walden, was jailed for seven years.

Echo: Behind bars - Grant BoldenBehind bars - Grant Bolden (Image: Essex Police)

Bolden was also sentenced for separate offences committed in May 2023 – making threats with a knife and a racially aggravated public order offence.

During a taxi journey, he became aggressive and abusive when asked to pay the fare. Drawing a large knife, he held the weapon to the driver’s face and made a racist remark.

Detective Sergeant David Crane, of Essex Police's serious organised crime unit, said: “This was a deeply unsettling and frightening incident for the victim, who had no reason to believe the pistol pointed at their head wasn’t a viable firearm.

“Knight and Bolden used weapons to target a service station, all in the name of stealing cash and cigarettes.

“The seriousness of their offending was matched by the determination of our team to find them and bring them to justice.

“We were able to irrefutably link both offenders to this offence, leaving them with no choice but to plead guilty.

“They will both rightly spend a considerable term behind bars.

“During a separate incident, when fairly asked to pay for a taxi he had ordered, Bolden instead felt it acceptable to draw a knife and threaten the driver.

“He then subjected the victim to abusive and racist language, before exiting the taxi without paying the fare.

“I hope each victim feels able to draw some sense of closure and justice from our investigation and today’s sentence.”