A 66-YEAR-OLD store boss feared for his life when an armed raider said he had a gun and would shoot him, Bolton Crown Court was told.

Zahir Ahmed, who suffers from a heart condition, was punched in the face and suffered a broken nose during the violent attack at his Halliwell business.

David Budgeon and Simon Brooks, both aged 19, were locked up after they

admitted robbing Mr Ahmed of bottles of spirits.

Mr Ahmed was on his own in his shop, DJ's off-licence, on Halliwell Road, when the raiders burst in.

With the two men behind bars, Mr Ahmed spoke of his relief. He said: "It was very frightening. The men came in and tried to grab things from behind the counter.

"Then I was hit on the head and fell down unconscious. I'm glad it's all over. I'm glad justice has been done."

Both men said they were too drunk to remember much about the attack because they had drunk large amounts of cider, beer and spirits.

When police went to arrest Budgeon at his home, he attacked them, head-butting one officer in the face before they managed to subdue him. Brooks was inside the house and was also arrested.

Budgeon, of Rawthorne Street, Halliwell, and Simon Brooks, of Myrrh Street, Astley Bridge, admitted robbery, and Budgeon also pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer.

Judge Derwin Hope sent Budgeon to a Young Offenders' Institution for four years, and Brooks received three years.

The judge said the courts had a duty to protect those giving service to the public, such as Mr Ahmed.

He said: "Drunkenness is not an excuse for this sort of behaviour. The Court of Appeal has said sentences must be a deterrent, so that other people must know that this sort of offence will not be tolerated."

The court heard that Budgeon had previous convictions for robbery, assaulting a police officer, affray, damaging property and drink driving. Brooks had convictions for common assault, assaulting occasioning actual bodily harm, and being found on enclosed premises.

Prosecutor Jonathan Dickinson said Budgeon and Brooks and a third, unidentified male burst into Mr Ahmed's shop. Budgeon had his finger inside his coat and told the terrified shopkeeper he had a gun and would shoot him.

Budgeon then punched Mr Ahmed in the face, breaking his nose and causing him to fall to the floor. The men then stole several bottles of spirits and ran out. Mr Ahmed activated a personal alarm. When police arrived, an anonymous witness gave police Budgeon's name.

Budgeon told the court he could not remember much because he had drunk a cocktail of beer, cider and spirits.