A WOULD-BE thief has been jailed for more than four and a half years for attempting to rob at a petrol station armed with an imitation gun.

Konnor Kesson, 23, of no fixed address, was convicted at Preston Crown Court of attempted robbery, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and having a firearm to commit an offence.

He was sentenced to 56 months in prison.

The court heard Kesson entered the busy Shell garage on King Street, Blackburn around 8pm before approaching the cashier with an imitation handgun and demanded for money.

But a customer on the garage forecourt saw what was happening and called police.

When officers arrived on August 23, Kesson fled the scene empty-handed, before being chased on foot towards the River Blakewater. During the chase he pointed the imitation firearm towards an officer, the court heard.

He was located a short time later in an area of wasteland on Pump Street thanks to assistance from the police helicopter service.

DS Melissa Kelly, who led the investigation, said: “The cashier at the garage was simply going about his work when he was threatened with what he believed was a real handgun.

"He told officers afterwards that he had been in genuine fear for his life.

"Several customers were also present at the time and were left extremely shaken. A short time later a police officer, who gave chase after Kesson fled, also had the handgun pointed at him.

“They must all be praised for keeping a level head in what must have been an extremely scary situation.

“I am satisfied that Kesson has been handed a custodial sentence and hope he will use his time behind bars to reflect on the consequences of his actions.

"I also hope it sends the message that this type of offence will not be tolerated in Lancashire.”