A knifeman who carried out three night-time raids at shops in Denbighshire during eleven days last December has been jailed for five years and ten months.

Andrew Thomas Smith, of High Street, Mold, admitted two robberies at One Stop and Screwfix stores at Rhyl and an attempted robbery of Lifestyle Express at the nearby village of Dyserth.

Mold crown court heard how the 26-year-old wore a balaclava and jumped over the counter at the One Stop store in Grange Road, Rhyl, on December 8 while a woman was working.

Prosecutor Sion ap Mihangel said the assistant pressed an emergency button. Smith escaped in a car with £168 and stamps.

The worker described being “unbelievably scared.”

Five days later he snatched £328 from Rhyl hardware retailer Screwfix where two women were working at the time.

Mr ap Mihangel said Smith went drinking and gambling afterwards.

One of the assistants said her ordeal had been “terrifying.”

On December 19 Smith rode to Dyserth on a motorbike.

He wore his helmet, and carried a knife again, when he entered the Lifestyle Express convenience store in Dyserth and demanded: "Money, give me the money.”

A cashier was on the phone at the time and shouted in Sri Lankan and English before Smith fled.

The prosecutor said mobile phone evidence linked him to the scene.

Simon Killeen, defending, said: "There was no actual violence used.

"The offences were of a swift duration.”

Judge Rhys Rowlands told Smith, who appeared on a video link from Berwyn prison at Wrexham while counsel were on Skype, that the raids had a bad impact on victims.

The shopworker at Dyserth showed “fairly remarkable courage” when he shouted at him.

He added: "There’s no alternative to an immediate custodial sentence and one of some length.”