Two brave shop workers who fought off a machete-wielding raider using just a mop and bucket and a bottle of vodka have been praised for their “great courage” by a judge.
Terrified Sylvia Hushion and Marion Copping refused to hand over cash after hoodie-wearing Robert Nash burst into the Co-Op store in Central Drive, Blackpool, and brandished two knives in their faces.
As Nash burst into the shop waving a “vicious-looking” machete and demanded they had over money, Ms Copping instead picked up a mop and held it like a long staff, pushing Nash away and holding him at bay.
Meanwhile, Ms Hushion picked up a bottle of vodka and hurled it at Nash’s head.
The pair’s brave response was enough to send Nash fleeing from the shop empty-handed.
Nash, who is originally from Torquay, Devon, and had fled to Blackpool after carrying out a savage attack with an iron bar in his home town, was arrested not long after the incident, which left one of the women “shaking like a leaf” and terrified of returning to work.
He has now been jailed for four years.
Judge John Neligan, at Exeter Crown Court, told him: “The aggravating features are that this was a small shop staffed by two ladies on their own at night and there was a degree of planning with the two knives, one of which was a vicious-looking weapon.
“I think the courage of these ladies should be recognised and they should be commended for the great courage with which they acted.”
The court heard Nash was on bail for another offence and awaiting trial when he moved to Blackpool, where he had been sofa surfing, and tried to rob the Co Op on October 26 last year.
Terry Holder, prosecuting, showed the judge CCTV of the incident and said: “Marion is the lady with the broom who rather bravely comes forward with it while he is holding up a machete type knife at the till.
“The other lady, Sylvia, at one point throws a bottle of vodka which appears to hit the defendant shortly before he leaves the shop.
“The CCTV also shows other customers fleeing from the shop and one falling over as they try to get away.
“Sylvia made a victim impact statement saying she was shaking like a leaf and was so scared she was crying after he left and did not want to go back to work.”
Nash’s first offence was an iron bar attack on a man at his home in Torquay in 2012.
The victim and Nash had been residents in a hostel together and Nash had a grudge and had threatened violence before coming to his home and hitting him 12 times around the back and arms with a two foot long metal bar.
Nash was identified and eventually arrested on November 2 last year - a week after the attempted raid at the Co-Op - after an image of him leaving the shop was issued by police to the media.
Among his previous convictions is one for having a broken bottle as a weapon while he was living in Barnstaple in 2009.
Paul Dentith, defending, said: “Nash went to Blackpool to escape bad influences in Torquay and the day before the robbery he was told his mother was dying of cancer and probably had 24 hours to live.
“Everything had gone for him while in Blackpool and he was addicted to heroin and on the day of the robbery had taken a number of valium.
“He got it into his head to grab enough money to get home to see his mother. In the end he was arrested on November 2 and she died on November 3.
“He insists he took the weapon to threaten and would never have used it and that when he was hit with the bottle of vodka it made him come to his senses and he left.”
A spokesman for The Co-operative Food said: “It left the staff involved very badly shaken.
“We are pleased the court has acknowledged the seriousness of what happened.”