A JUDGE heard about the terrifying ordeal when a 42-year-old man robbed the tills of two small shops at knifepoint, threatening to stab staff and kill one owner.

Leon Carl Jones of Oxton, Birkenhead, pleaded guilty on Friday, November 2 to having a knife and robbing Premier Newsagents at Penrhyn Bay, where a man and woman were held up and made to kneel on the floor, and two days later in August robbing Billy Mac’s convenience store in the town centre of Llandudno.

Judge Timothy Petts heard that the owner of Billy Mac’s, Mr Sunny Thomas – who the robber had threatened to kill - and his family were so upset that he will shut down in March. Mr Thomas had pursued the robber, who was in a hoodie and sunglasses and wearing gloves, with a baseball bat but lost him.

Mr John Parkinson, owner of the Penrhyn Bay store, read an impact statement at Caernarfon crown court in which he paid tribute to the two staff members on duty that night, Sandra Roberts and Ashley Walchester, who turned up for work next day despite the trauma. He described it as an horrendous event which must have caused them mental anguish. “We should be able to feel safe in our working environment,” he declared. “I can only admire the courage of Sandy and Ashley.”

Miss Roberts in an impact statement said the robber had grabbed her and she sometimes had flashbacks. She still went to work because she couldn’t afford not to do so but felt unnerved when someone entered in a hoodie.

Prosecuting, Sian ap Mihangel, said a Stanley knife with a two or three inch blade which was used in the robberies had been bought at Poundland, Llandudno. At the newsagent’s £255 had been stolen, and at the other store £150.

Jones had touched Miss Roberts by the shoulders while she was stacking shelves and she had grabbed a stand holding crisps to try and put a barrier between them. He grabbed her again and she fell to the floor with the stand on top of her.

He threatened to use the knife and when Mr Walchester came into the store made the two of them kneel down. Jones left the shop and was seen on CCTV entering a Golf car which he had parked at a nearby surgery. The car had been used to reconnoitre the area.

Two days later the robbery at Billy Mac’s took place where Jones, a knife in his hand, ran towards Mr Thomas shouting : “I’ll kill you, open the till.” Mr ap Mihangel commented : “It must have been a terrifying ordeal for him, the same as in the previous incident.”

In his impact statement Mr Thomas said the incident had made him decide to close the business when his rental agreement expired in March.

Sarah Yates, defending, said Jones “was ashamed of his own behaviour.” There was another side to his character and also mental health issues.

Judge Petts said: " Community shops need to be protected by the courts because there is a belief they are easy targets."