A gun-wielding robber who ran away empty-handed when a brave fuel station worker stood up to him using a step stool has been jailed for seven years.

Robert Finch was working alone when masked and hooded raider Tyrone Roach came in armed with a handgun and demanding cash.

But Roach was left stunned when Mr Finch fended him off and ushered him out despite fearing for his life.

In his rush to flee the scene of his botched crime, the raider dropped his surgical face mask, leaving behind his DNA.

Now the 29-year-old, who had scoped out his target earlier in the day in his car and on foot, has been locked up.

In a statement read to Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Finch said: "This left me petrified.

"You can't put into words the fear that goes through you when someone pulls a hand gun on you.

"I thought I was going to die and for what? Some till money."

He added: "Due to the terrifying nature of the incident, I was quite badly affected mentally and emotionally for several months afterwards.

Armed robber Tyrone Roach, 29, of Deighton Walk, East Denton
Armed robber Tyrone Roach, 29, of Deighton Walk, East Denton

"Nobody should be subjected to such a scary incident.

"After I returned to work I was unable to stay in the shop for long periods of time, I had to go outside to get air and calm down.

"I'm very nervous and anxious when someone comes in and very jumpy.

"Whenever someone comes in I'm scared in case it happens again.

"The first thing I do when I start work is make sure the step stool is near me so I can use it again for protection if necessary."

The raid happened at the Gulf fuel station, on Hillhead Parkway, in Chapel House, Newcastle, on July 17 last year.

Richard Holland, prosecuting, said: "The defendant entered with his hood up and his face covered with a surgical mask and was armed with what looked like a handgun.

"He demanded cash but the victim picked up a stool step and chased him out, telling him to get out.

"His actions were extremely brave in the face of what he thought was a robber armed with a firearm.

"The defendant appeared to be so surprised at being met with some resistance, he ran away and dropped the face mask nearby, which became an important piece of evidence against him."

Roach, of Deighton Walk, East Denton, Newcastle, was found guilty by a jury of attempted robbery and possessing an imitation firearm and has been jailed for seven years.

Judge Penny Moreland commended Mr Finch's bravery, saying he didn't know if the gun, which was not recovered, was real.

The judge said Mr Finch had shown "extraordinary courage in the face of what must have been a terrifying attempted robbery".

She commended him and awarded him £250 out of public funds for his bravery.

Newcastle Crown Court

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Judge Moreland said: "While I would not want anyone to think they should behave as Mr Finch did in that situation, it's only right I recognise his extraordinary courage."

Kate Barnes, defending, said Roach now accepts responsibility and added: "He wishes to express through me his deep regret for the anxiety he has caused to Mr Finch.

"He was drinking to excess and using cocaine and associating with inappropriate peers.

"It was a moment of madness

"The execution of the offence was amateurish."