A BRAVE shopkeeper tackled a knife-wielding raider who was trying to break into the till of his Kidderminster off-licence, a court heard.

Career thief Peter Vickers went into Bargain Booze, in Coventry Street, at about 8pm on Friday, March 14 this year, John Evans, prosecuting, told Worcester Crown Court yesterday. Manager Thomas Hampton was out at the back and when Vickers, who was wearing a jacket with the hood up, saw the shop was empty he tried to break into the till.

Mr Hampton had heard the door bell, however, and came out to stop the 27-year-old while he was trying to get into the till. Vickers then produced a bread knife and threatened Mr Hampton, demanding to get to the till and then saying he wanted alcohol and cigarettes.

Mr Evans said Mr Hampton armed himself with a chisel he had been using on work in the shop and Vickers grabbed a wine bottle, smashing the end and holding it by the neck to threaten Mr Hampton.

There was a "stand-off" before Vickers took two cases containing 24 bottles of beer, one of which he dropped on the floor. He made off with the other case and police responded after Mr Hampton pressed the panic button.

They recognised Vickers and he was arrested 40 minutes later.

John Rogers, defending, said Vickers, of Love Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, had been offending since the age of 12 and had been in trouble in the North East and other places, including Kidderminster.

He had a number of convictions for theft and had been released from jail last October intending to go straight and get help to tackle his drug use but he had become"institutionalised" and had nowhere to live. He found himself staying with other drug users around Kidderminster, which led him back to his old ways.

Recorder Stuart Sprawson said Mr Hampton was "a brave shopkeeper trying to stop a thug with a knife from taking his property." He had fought off Vickers even though he must have been frightened by the bread knife and the broken bottle he had armed himself with.

Vickers pleaded guilty to robbery and having a knife in a public place. He was jailed for three years and eight months for robbery with no separate penalty on the knife charge.