A pint-sized female shopkeeper bravely chased off two armed robbers from her Blackpool shop with a wooden bamboo stick.
Plucky 5ft tall Karen Wann, who runs News and booze on Talbot Road, Blackpool, is so small that she often wears children’s clothing - but her size did not stop her leaping into action to fend off the raiders, who struck on May 10 shortly after 8am.
Despite one of them brandishing a hammer, she waved the stick at them and chased them as they fled.
Karen, 51, said it was ‘very scary’ despite her heroic efforts.
She said: “They came charging in with their masks on and I was on my own talking to a friend on the phone.
“I knew something was not right when I saw them come in behind the shop shelf.
“It’s not something you expect at just after 8am. I just made sure I was at a safe distance and had my ‘scare’ stick. I actually didn’t want to hit them because they might have got more angry.”
Karen, who moved to the resort from Hong Kong 15 years ago says she didn’t know it was a hammer until after viewing the CCTV afterwards.
She added: “The police arrived very quickly and I found out they had caught them fast as well.
“A police officer told me they had got into a taxi and gone back to one of their flats. The police rang the taxi company and found the address where they were dropped off.”
The thugs, who only ended up getting away with a charity box and a £5 scratchcard, were jailed at Preston Crown Court.
Defendants Scott Murphy, of Springfield Road, Blackpool, and Danny Gibson, of Balmoral Terrace, Fleetwood, sat in the dock at Preston Crown Court with three security guards between them, and Murphy still in handcuffs due to fears of violence between them.
Moments before their case was called on, Recorder David Potter was told that Murphy had been shouting untrue accusations through his cell that his co-defendant was a ‘nonce’.
This stems from Gibson, a vulnerable prisoner with mental health issues, being housed on the same wing as sex offenders in prison, despite not being one, his defence lawyer said.
Both men admitted robbery of a scratchcard and charity box, and Murphy admits possessing an offensive weapon - a hammer - in public.
Prosecuting, Peter Barr said on May 10, Mrs Wann had opened up as usual, but at around 8.20am Murphy and Gibson, with their faces covered, came in and walked quickly to the till.
He said: “ On approaching her one took a hammer out of his pocket.
“He began to demand money.
“The victim says she cannot remember what he was saying but he was shouting and swearing. She recalls she immediately bent down and she had a stick hidden under the counter to protect herself.
“She gets the stick to try and protect herself. He (Murphy) has the hammer raised but does not thrust it towards her.”
“He then steals the charity box on the counter which was tied to a stand so there was a bit of a struggle.
“He eventually breaks the string. Whilst this is happening the other offender steals a scratch card.
“It’s all over very quickly. Both run from the store and are chased by Mrs Wann, who still has the stick with her.”
The court heard the hammer was later found on Murphy’s bed when he was arrested.
In a victim statement, the brave shopkeeper said she was “terrified” of what happened.
She said: “ I thought they were going to kill me
“I feared for my life.”
She said she was anxious and had lost sleep, and during the day she “couldn’t stop thinking about it and how bad it could have been.”
Defending Murphy, Julie Taylor said he was a heroin addict and committed the offence to fund his habit.
Since in prison he has done a painting and decorating course and has been involved in the Sycamore Project.
She added: “He says the fact it was a lone woman in the shop was something he was unaware of and it was not premeditated.”
Defending Gibson, Collette Renton said he was smoking cannabis from the age of nine and was introduced to class A drugs aged 15 by his own father.
She said: “It is described that Mr Gibson had a supportive role in the enterprise.
“He got his hands on a £5 scratchcard, no doubt he is part of the enterprise, but he is not the person to have the hammer in his hands.
“He has described to me he is shocked this incident got as bad as it did.
“He has told me at length his regret for what happened on that day. He said he feels so sorry for that poor lady and what she had to go through.
“He offers his apology to her.”
Murphy was jailed for four years, while Gibson received three years and nine months in prison.