A THUG who terrified a shopkeeper with a kitchen knife in a raid that was caught on CCTV has been locked up.

Clifford Sculpher, 33, held the knife behind the neck of the frightened worker at the Wine Cellar in Mill Hill, Blackburn, as he demanded money.

Prosecutor Claire Larton told Preston Crown Court that shopkeeper Ajaoi Suraj saw the defendant and tried to ward him off before noticing the large kitchen knife in his hand.

Sculpher came towards him with the knife saying “give me the money”, with Mr Suraj replying “there is no money you should go.”

The shopkeeper, who had only taken over the business three weeks earlier, grabbed a wine bottle to try to protect himself but Sculpher came back towards him and grabbed him by the arm while holding the knife behind his neck repeating his demand – “give me the money”.

On realising he wasn’t going to get any cash, Sculpher left the shop, leaving the shopkeeper in a ‘terrified’ and ‘anxious’ state.

Later that day on January 3, Sculpher, formerly of Brindle Street, Blackburn, called an ambulance due to his mental state but because of his aggressive manner, paramedics refused to take him and called police.

Officers took him to hospital and just minutes later, staff called police to say that Sculpher was being loud and threatening.

Police returned to take him to the station at which point a constable was kicked by Sculpher with both feet in the back.

After being put into a cell, Sculpher spat on a custody officer.

Three days later, Sculpher was seeking medical attention for his mental health state when he threw items, including a table, at a staff member Richard Brooks, who had to go to the hospital to have his finger checked.

Defending Sculpher, Mark Stuart, said the 33-year-old struggled with his mental health and had started taking illegal drugs instead of his medication.

Mr Stuart said: “It’s not an excuse but may explain how he came to be in the position he was.”

He also argued that the incident with the knife was ‘out of character’ and that he Sculpher has no previous conviction of this nature.

Sentencing, Judge Heather Lloyd said: “That shopkeeper had only been working in that shop for three weeks and since this incident has been extremely worried, extremely scared.

“He was stacking shelves when you came in threatening him with this knife.”

She also described Sculpher spitting on the detention officer as a “particularly revolting thing to do and dangerous thing to do”.

Sculpher pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and assault causing actual bodily harm and was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.

DS Steve Munro, of Blackburn CID, said: “Sculpher’s behaviour towards a businessman trying to serve his local community was both cowardly and despicable.

"It had a significant impact on the residents of Mill Hill who were quite rightly appalled by what Sculpher had done. It was thanks to their support and good detective work that Sculpher was arrested and subsequently charged.

“I would like to praise the victim who showed courage and bravery in what was clearly a distressing ordeal for him. However, I would always encourage people not to challenge offenders with weapons but always to call the police for assistance when it is safe to do so.

“I welcome the sentence handed down by the judge and hope it sends out a strong message that Lancashire Police and the courts will not tolerate anybody who threaten people with weapons or assaults emergency workers who are just trying to do their jobs.”