A courageous shopkeeper who fought off a knife-wielding robber has been praised by a judge for his bravery.
And Krish Morthy today welcomed the jailing of the two bungling thieves, and said he would not be deterred from running his late night store, despite being aware of the potential dangers.
Nicholas Martin and Jessica Wilshaw have been jailed for three years each, after admitting the attempted robbery of the Selbourne Mini Market on Caunce Street, Blackpool, on February 5.
The boyfriend and girlfriend attempted to hold up the corner shop, with Martin brandishing a butcher’s steak knife and Wilshaw threatening the shopkeeper and his brother with a wine bottle, a court heard.
But Mr Morthy, 29, who has run the shop for five years, has told how he saw off the pair by waving a stool at them.
He said: “I thought they were going to hurt me, but I wasn’t scared.
“I’ve done this work for 10 years so I know the things that can happen, but we always keep things safe.”
Martin, 28, of Newhouse Road, Marton, and Martin, 24, of William Street, Layton, were jailed for three years each as Judge Pamela Badley praised Mr Morthy for acting with “very great bravery”.
The shopkeeper said the pair being jailed was “saving every other shop”.
He added: “Every shop knows this can happen – if you’re opening late at night people will try this.
“But they can’t take anything. They will be caught.
“Now people know not to target my shop.”
Preston Crown Court heard how the pair entered the shop late on the Thursday night and Martin, who had a cap and hood covering his head, demanded: “Open the till – I need the money.”
Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, said as the pair approached the shop counter Martin turned to his accomplice, who handed him something.
He then produced a knife with a six-inch blade and serrated edge and threatened Mr Morthy and his brother, demanding money, the court heard.
Mr Grout-Smith said: “The owners of the shop backed away and picked up a stool and brandished it at the defendants.”
Mr Morthy today told how he calmly tried to reason with the pair, warning them they were being filmed on CCTV, before realising he would need to use something in self-defence.
He said: “They just looked like normal customers when they came in, I didn’t think they were going to threaten me.
“Then they came round the till and showed me the knife and he said ‘open the till’.
“I wasn’t scared because I knew we had the CCTV, I said to them, ‘we’ve got CCTV’, then I picked up the chair and held it out at them.
“I said there’s no chance they’re taking anything.
“The woman went as if to throw the wine, I said, ‘Don’t do that, I’ll call the police’ so they knew it wasn’t safe and ran off.”
The court heard how at that moment another customer entered the shop, scaring the robbers, who fled the scene.
A bag, containing a jacket and hat Wilshaw had been wearing, was later found. CCTV footage captured the whole incident.
Waheed Oman-Baber, defending Martin, said his client accepted responsibility for his actions, saying it had probably been planned by him and he enlisted his girlfriend.
He said: “He is still at a loss to explain why he did what he did. He says he had money on him.
“He puts it down to the use of drugs, combined with alcohol.
“He suffers a mental health illness. He had stopped taking his medication and his wellbeing began to deteriorate.
“He took two strips of diazepam, which was very unlike him.”
But the court also heard Wilshaw had an “unenviable” lengthy criminal record, from her solicitor, Paul Robinson.
Judge Pamela Badley said in passing sentence that the shop owners had acted “with very great bravery”, perhaps because their livelihood was at stake.
She added: “It was very fortunate indeed it just so happened that a member of the public came in.
“That clearly disrupted the robbery.
“Although it wasn’t a terribly sophisticated robbery, it must have been terrifying for the individuals, particularly when faced with a man with a knife.”