A robber was covered in chilli powder in a knife raid after the shopkeepers fought back.
The thief was beaten with an advertising sign, a mobility grabber, a ladder and had chilli powder thrown at him when he tried to rob a local newsagent with a kitchen knife.
He almost stabbed his own backside with the knife when he tried to run away with the loot on a bicycle.
Paul Callaghan could not get away after the shop owner grabbed his bicycle from the back.
However, shopkeeper Ramyamuki Ithlayanathan was lucky not to be injured when the 45-year-old crook took a swipe at her during the terrifying incident.
His botched hold-up and “tug of war” at Ernie’s News on King’s Road, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough was captured in dramatic CCTV footage.
He walked in covering his face brandishing a very large yellow-handled knife which he pointed at shopkeeper Ramyamuki Ithlayanathan.
Gazette Live reported that he demanded “give me all the money” at 5pm on July 23 last year, Teesside Crown Court heard.
She and her husband Thilepan Thillainanathan fought back as the knifeman grabbed the till and tried to leave with it under his arm.
Thilepan threw ladders and handfuls of eye-watering chilli powder at Callaghan.
Ramyamuki followed him, grabbed his bicycle’s back wheel and threw a sign at him.
“They showed great bravery,” said prosecutor Johnny Walker today. “During the course of their determined attempts to thwart the robbery, he lashed out towards the female shopkeeper, aiming the knife at her midriff.”
He said they “showed remarkable fortitude, even grabbing the back wheel of the bike as he began to pedal away” and throwing shop furniture at him, ladders, the chilli powder and some advertising hoarding in an attempt to prevent him cycling away.
“They were, in fact, successful, managing to grab hold of the rear wheel of the bike and the bike itself.
“Then there was a tug of war. He swung the knife again at her. He dropped the till and then ran away.
“The police were alerted. A number of witnesses gave an accurate description. After a short pursuit the powder-adorned defendant was stopped.”
Callaghan told police: “I’m sorry I did it. I never hurt anyone.”
He also said “my son is dying”, which Mr Walker said was “a complete lie, completely made up”.
Callaghan said he did not remember the events and claimed someone had spiked his drink, putting him in a “dreamlike state”.
Callaghan, of Ayresome Street, Middlesbrough, formerly of Grangetown, admitted robbery and threatening a person with a knife.
His record included a conviction in the 1990s for robbery, more recently for burglary and petty crime with “endless community orders that didn’t work”, said a judge.
Andrew Turton, defending, said: “He still cannot understand why he went to a local shop where he was a regular visitor, a regular customer and has some regard for the people in there. That is entirely contrary to what is on the CCTV and how he treated these people.
“He was no match for them. That is a credit to them. Certainly they dealt with the situation admirably.”
He said Callaghan maintained his drink had been laced with a drug.
He added Callaghan previously kept out of trouble for six years and made a concerted effort to kick drugs, doing well in treatment and giving negative tests in May last year.
Now he was maturing, off drugs in prison and wanted to change. He had a partner who abhorred drugs and could keep him on the straight and narrow.
Judge Sean Morris said the shopkeepers were “amazingly tenacious”.
He said: “It’s a very determined robbery of a small corner shop where these people are trying hard to earn a decent living.”
He told Callaghan: “You’ve been in trouble for most of your life.
“Obviously you were under the influence of something.
“You seem to have been making progress in getting rid of drugs.
“Whilst you are 45 it’s equally apparent to me you look a lot older than that, and that’s due to drugs.
“This is an opportunity for you to grasp to get clean, and when you come out, you try and make something of your life before it’s too late.”
“I will, your Honour,” said Callaghan, who was jailed for four years and 10 months.