A KNIFE wielding robber who terrorised shop staff in a two week crime spree has been jailed for four years and eight months.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that towards the end of last year Mark Walsh carried out “nasty and cowardly robberies" at small shops in Prescot.

He threatened frightened staff with a meat cleaver in two raids and in his final robbery he was armed with a knife with a six inch blade.

Jailing the 28-year-old Judge David Aubrey QC said he had targeted vulnerable premises at night when he expected there would be few staff and his aim was to steal as much money or goods as possible.

He explained: “The anxiety, apprehension and terror you must have caused your victims in incalculable. Every time they opened their shop and go to work they no doubt wondered whether they may again be subjected to robbery.”

He told Walsh of Sergrim Road, Page Moss in Liverpool that his sentence would have been longer if he had not shown remorse. Judge Aubrey said that while watching CCTV footage of the incidents Walsh had bowed his head in shame.

Walsh who has previous convictions pleaded guilty to two robberies, an attempted robbery and three charges of possessing a knife.

Lloyd Morgan, prosecuting said that Walsh first struck on September 19 at the Greenhouse discount store in Molyneux Drive, Prescot brandishing a meat cleaver.

He demanded cash but left empty handed after staff bravely activated the alarm.

On October 1 he went into Dunnes News in Shaw Lane, Prescot again with the cleaver and wearing a balaclava.

He fled after staff handed over £80 but police found the weapon and balaclava abandoned nearby with his DNA found on the headwear.

Before his arrest he returned to the store just two days later, this time with a knife with a six inch blade and left with £45 cash and two packets of cigarettes.

David Williams, defending, said that at the time of the offences Walsh had been a user of drugs and drink.