A BOOZE and drug-fuelled Iraq veteran held up staff in a terrifying gunpoint robbery at a Blackpool off licence.
Karl Milner, who had served with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, got a “mad idea” and armed himself with a ball bearing gun before bursting into Booze Buster on Dickson Road.
He held the weapon in an outstretched hand, demanding the tills be opened.
Preston Crown Court heard the brave shop manager took a crow bar and unsuccessfully tried to knock the gun out of Milner’s hand, before chasing Milner from the premises.
The 28-year-old defendant of Caunce Street, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to charges of attempted robbery and having an imitation firearm.
He was jailed for four years and four months.
Francis McEntee, prosecuting, said Milner walked into the off licence, one night in July, and pulled out the ball bearing gun. Milner shouted “open the tills, open the tills”.
Mr McEntee said: “The manager took a crow bar and tried to knock the gun out of the defendant’s hand, but missed.
“Neither of the witnesses knew if it was a real gun or not. The manager chased the defendant from the store, though he was extremely frightened and feared for his and his colleague’s safety.”
One of them later said he really felt the would-be robber was going to shoot them and they were really shaken up.
The manager, who was shaking afterwards and unable to breathe properly, contacted the police.
When arrested Milner told police he was on anti-depressants at the time and had drunk up to 12 pints that day. He spoke of having got a “mad idea” and picking up the ball bearing bun.
Richard Haworth, defending, said: “He knew exactly what he had done, in the cold light of day and made his admissions at all relevant times.
“This was an unplanned and opportunistic offence. He had a confused thought process, blurred by drink and the anti-depressant drugs he had taken in the day.
“The offence occurred very much on the spur of the moment. He had ummed and ahhed outside the premises before going in.
“The defendant expresses remorse”.
During his time in the Army, Milner was said to have served in countries like Cyprus and Iraq.
Judge Norman Wright told Milner: “Clearly, it must have been an extremely frightening experience. It must have been petrifying for those working in the store.
“I can well understand how the manager felt he was going to be shot and the assistant felt sick and couldn’t breathe properly.
“The psychological scars from this sort of offence can be deep and long lasting. You above all should know about the impact of firearms, albeit it was an imitation firearm, because of your service in the armed forces.
“These offences are so serious there can only be a custodial sentence”.