A man threatened and assaulted over a £1,00 drugs debt took an imitation pistol into a pharmacy and tried to rob a member of staff.

The victim, the mother of young child, feared she would be shot and killed.

But Mold Crown Court heard heard how another staff member pressed the alarm and there was such a noise that defendant David Norman fled empty handed in panic.

He then cycled away on his getaway bicycle.

Norman, aged 22, of Rhodfa Padarn, Prestatyn, was jailed for three years and four months after he admitted attempted to rob a member of staff at Pritchard’s Pharmacy in the town’s Victoria Road, on September 22, and possessing an imitation firearm, a gas powered pistol, with intent to cause the victim to fear unlawful violence.

Norman – who also admitted four earlier shoplifting offences – was told by Judge Timothy Petts that he had taken an imitation pistol into the pharmacy believing it to be an easy target.

He had a scarf over his face and propped the door open to make good his escape.

The defendant produced the pistol, demanded money and the victim was understandably terrified.

“She was not to know whether it was a real gun or not,” the judge said.

He panicked and left when the alarm was sounded and while it was over in a matter of seconds the impact of what he had done had been considerable.

Victim Rebecca Orton feared that she was going to be shot and killed, the judge said.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said that at 2.30pm on September 23, the defendant entered Pritchard’s Pharmacy, propped the door open, approached Miss Orton with a scarf over his face and he was carrying a black ruck sack.

The prosecutor said: “He reached into the bag and pulled out what to her looked like a gun and pointed it in her direction.”

He told her to put money into the bag but looked nervous and did not seem confident about carrying out a robbery.

She was overcome with fear and crouched down behind the counter putting her hands over her head.

A quick thinking member of staff sounded the alarm and as a result of a great deal of noise he panicked and left empty handed.

He was seen to cycle away and went to his sister’s former address where he concealed the bike and hid the gun under some decking.

Arrested, he made full admissions.

Miss Orton, 25, told how she had worked there for eight years and her job was important to her.

But when she made a victim impact statement she told how her confidence had been affected, she had not been able to return to work, and she did not know how to get back to where she was before.

It was the last thing she thought about at night, the first thing she thought about in the morning.

It had become an obsession which had taken over her life.

She had been extremely scared and thought the defendant was going to kill her.

“All I could think of was my son having to grow up without his mother,” she said.

The robbery was captured on CCTV and still photographs from the footage were handed in to the judge.

Defending barrister Simon Mintz told how his client had no convictions for violence, who admitted what he had done and pleaded guilty immediately at the crown court.

His client had been threatened over a £1,000 drugs debt, and they did not believe him that the robbery was unsuccessful and he had been assaulted.

He had come under intense pressure but it was accepted that it did not afford him a defence of duress if only because he had the opportunity to withdraw.

But it was clear that the offences were committed to pay off drugs debts which had accumulated over a longer period of time.

Norman had a supportive family, had a partner and three children aged four, two and seven months, who was using his time in custody well and taking qualifications, explained Mr Mintz.