A DRUNK, desperate for cigarettes, resorted to attempting to rob shopkeepers at two small premises when they refused to “barter” with him, a court heard.

Gareth Shaun Smith was jailed for 30-months for the abortive bid to acquire tobacco at Kip Hill Services and the Bus Station Interchange Newsagents, both in Stanley, early on July 31.

Durham Crown Court heard he tried to buy cigarettes worth £14.68, at the services, but did not have enough money and was refused service by the male assistant, at 5.30am.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said he left the premises, but returned two minutes later and made a further attempt, before trying to kick open the security door to get behind the counter, but was blocked by the assistant.

Smith left in frustration, knocking sweets from a display and throwing a water carrier at the window.

Miss Waugh said less than an hour later he entered the bus station newsagents, went to the till and demanded all the cigarettes from the premises, claiming he had a gun.

When he was refused Smith, who had his right hand in his trouser pocket, told the owner: “Well, I will shoot you then.”

The owner moved from behind the counter and the defendant backed off, claiming he would return with a baseball bat.

Miss Waugh said he did return, holding a metal bar, shouting he wanted some cigarettes for £5, but the shopkeeper again told him he was getting nothing.

Smith swung the bar at the owner, knocking a sweet stand off the counter, causing £200 worth of damage, and left, shouting abuse.

Police were informed and within minutes Smith was arrested at a nearby Asda store, Telling the officers he, “just wanted tabs” and conceded when he was refused service, he did, “go mad”.

He made no comment in interview about the service station incident, and, when asked about events at the newsagents, claimed he could not recall it, as he was under the influence of drink, Valium and ecstasy.

But, at court, the 28-year-old, of Kier Hardie Avenue, Stanley, admitted two counts of attempted robbery .

Peter Walsh, mitigating, said: “This was an ill-thought out drunken escapade with no attempt at disguise.

“He almost tried to barter with the shopkeepers, asking for cigarettes for £5, and then making threats.”

Jailing him, Recorder Peter Makepeace told Smith: “This was a drunken, but incredibly dangerous and frightening episode.”