An alcoholic who robbed staff at the Co-op store in St Asaph was jailed for 18 months.

Mold Crown Court heard how Christopher Steel was an alcoholic who wanted more money for booze.

But when confronted by three members of staff as he left with a basket containing stolen meat products he put his hand in his pocket, indicated that he had a knife, and threatened to stab them.

The staff understandably drew back and he fled, the court was told.

Steel, aged 36, of Abergele Road, in Old Colwyn, admitted robbery on September 18 last year.

But it was accepted that he did not actually have a knife.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said that now he was sober the defendant would appreciate that the staff did not know that at the time.

“Three members of staff tried to stop you.

“You threatened them that you had a knife and put your hand in your pocket, asking them if they wanted you to stab them.

“I accept that you didn’t actually have a knife.

“But it would have been a very frightening experience to be told that you had a knife in those circumstances.”

The judge said that in March of last year the defendant had been jailed for ten months and was then released on licence.

It was alleged that he was given accommodation which was unsuitable and reverted to his former life-style.

That day he had committed a shoplifting at the Co-op in Bodelwyddan for which he had already been sentenced before he and others travelled to the Co-op at St Asaph where the robbery occurred.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said that Steel entered the store and put meat in a basket.

As he was leaving he was confronted by three members of staff.

He was asked to return the goods or pay for them.

There was a scuffle as they tried to take the basket off him and it was then that the threat occurred.

He put his hand in his pocket and said “I am going to stab you” or “I will stab you.”

Staff immediate thought better of continuing to confront him and backed away.

He left but was later recognised from CCTV footage and was arrested.

Defending barrister Sarah Yates said that it was accepted that a threat was made.

But no weapon was produced and he did not actually have a knife.

He had no previous convictions and the robbery was clearly the most serious offence he had committed.

“The reason behind this offence is effectively drink,” she said.

He was an alcoholic who had no money.

His family were in Middlesbrough, he was on his own in North Wales where his life had “spiralled out of control.”

The offence occurred when he went into the shop to steal meat to sell on to buy alcohol.

As he left he was confronted and he accepted that he made a stupid comment.

“He said to me today that he knows he should not have opened his mouth,” she explained.

The defendant had a daughter aged four who he did not see because of his life-style.

When he was released on tag from his previous sentence, he was placed in a hostel with other alcoholics and drug users.

“He went from one bad situation to that and his life-style continued.”

Miss Yates said that her client knew what he needed to do on his release.

Steel appeared for sentence via a live television link from Altcourse Prison in Liverpool.