CCTV footage shows the shocking moment an armed robber smashed a shop till with a hammer to grab the cash before trying to steal a taxi to make his escape.
Anthony Potts entered the mobile phone shop in the Galleries Shopping Centre in Washington, wielding the weapon and was filmed whacking the til so the tray fell out and forcing the owner to hand him the contents when it fell on the floor.
Prosecutor Neil Pallister told Newcastle Crown Court that Potts took £175 that had spilled from the till and left the "petrified" worker fearing "he was going to be struck by the hammer."
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The armed bloke, of Wellcroft Court, Leam Lane, Gateshead, then attempted to nab car keys from two strangers before deciding to try and escape in a taxi while the driver was busy helping an elderly customer, the court heard.
However, the 34-year-old's plan was foiled when he was detained at the scene by members of the public and security staff until the police arrived.
The hammer was left inside the taxi and the £175 in cash taken from the phone shop was left on the ground following the incident at around 9.30am on March 9.
Potts has since been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after he admitted robbery, attempted robbery and having an offensive weapon
Recorder Anthony Dunne said: "You were seen on CCTV footage carrying a hammer, quite openly, in one of your hands as you wandered through the shopping centre.
"This was an extremely frightening incident for anyone that witnessed your behaviour or who was approached and threatened by you."
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Fiona Lamb, defending, claimed Potts had been suffering from mental health problems at the time of the offence and had "felt like he was losing it" after taking a large quantity of cocaine.
She added: "He doesn't know why he did it, there was no reason for him to do it. He had approximately £500 in his bank account and clearly had enough money to buy cocaine so it wasn't because of the money.
"He said he just doesn't know what was the matter with him and doesn't know why he did it."
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