A LLANGOLLEN man with a 'shocking criminal record' has been sent to prison after a 'terrifying' robbery at an off-license store.

Paul Andrew Taylor, of Bridge Street, appeared at Mold Crown Court via video link from HMP Berwyn on May 12.

The 33-year-old had previously admitted that on December 2 last year he robbed Bargain Booze in Rhyl of cash to the value of £530.

Prosecuting, Mr Dafydd Roberts that around 7.30pm, Taylor entered Bargain Booze dressed all in black with a mask covering half of his face.

After waiting ‘patiently’ for another customer to leave, he approached the counter where Alisha Tilley was serving.

The court heard how Taylor had his hand in his hoodie pocket but stretched it out saying he had a gun.

Ms Tilley believed he had a gun and that she would be shot so called for her colleague Jak Foster who opened the till.

Mr Roberts said Taylor was repeating the same demand until he took the money from the till and in doing so said ‘I’m sorry, I’m desperate’.

The court heard how Taylor left the store with £530 in cash.

The incident was reported to North Wales Police who had received information that it was Paul Taylor as he had ‘admitted to others he committed the robbery’.

The court heard how mobile phone examination showed messages between Taylor and his sister in which she advised to hand himself in.

After his arrest on December 6 and ‘no comment’ interview, Taylor was released under investigation before he was rearrested on January 20.

In a victim personal statement, Alisha Tilley said she had only been at the store for several weeks and believed he had a gun.

She was left feeling ‘anxious’ when she returned to work and ‘jumpy’.

Defence Counsel Simon Killeen said despite everyone having to wear a mask indoors, Taylor had concealed his identity.

He added an aggravating feature is a previous conviction for robbery, but this was a man who ‘was desperate’ and could ‘see no end to his own addiction’.

Mr Killeen said Taylor has sought advice in prison counselling and is ‘positive’ but despite his age of 33, has a ‘sad backslide into drugs’.

Judge G Walters said he accepted the young staff member genuinely believed he had a gun which ‘must have been terrifying by anyone’s standards’.

He added the staff were ‘so frightened by you, you were told to help yourself’.

The court heard how Taylor has a ‘shocking record’ for committing crime and is back inside in ‘no time’.

Despite appearing before the court over 40 times and stacking up 90 separate criminal offences, one particular concern is a previous robbery of a vulnerable individual.

Judge Walters said this was an aggravating feature and although Taylor had not yet reached the point where a ‘dangerous offence is required’, he ‘would not hold his breath’.

The court heard how it was of ‘no comfort’ to the victims that he is addicted to drugs and shop workers who provide a public service are ‘vulnerable’ to offences of this sort.

Judge Walters said: “It is rather sad that you are one of those cases where again I hear realistically from defence counsel that a long prison sentence is perhaps all that can save you.

“Short sentences don’t work for you, you are not in long enough to be able to do anything.

“I stress my sentence nothing to do with that principle, but it is sad reality of the man you are.”

With credit for his guilty plea, Taylor was given a 4-year custodial sentence.

Judge Walters added: “Put your time inside to good use.

“It is now or never perhaps.”