Newcastle Aldi robber jailed for air vent break-in
An armed robber who broke into a supermarket through an air vent and threatened staff with a BB gun has been jailed for nine years.
Richard Watson triggered an alarm at the Aldi store in Westerhope, Newcastle, but hid in the vent until police left.
He was later foiled by the store's deputy manager who disarmed him.
At Newcastle Crown Court, Watson, 35, admitted aggravated burglary and possession of an imitation firearm.
Northumbria Police said once inside the shop on Stamfordham Road, Watson turned off all the power.
When deputy manager Brian Moon went to investigate, he was confronted by the masked Watson who hit him over the head three times.
A struggle then ensued with Mr Moon managing to get the intruder in a headlock, police said.
A second staff member called 999 but Watson broke free before officers arrived and escaped through the air vent - having lost a shoe as Mr Moon grabbed his ankle in an attempt to prevent him getting away.
Police identified Watson, of Burnstones in West Denton, as the intruder after discovering fingerprints and traces of blood.
He was arrested and admitted the charges against him at a hearing in March.
Det Con Kelly Adams-Gray said Watson had gone to "extreme lengths to break into the building and then resorted to violence when his plans began to unravel".
"Ultimately it was the bravery of Mr Moon and the rest of the staff on duty that night that prevented Watson from escaping the scene with a haul of stolen goods," she said.
"They were confronted with a man holding a gun but showed incredible courage to stand up to him and force him out of the building, despite the risks to their own safety."