A COURAGEOUS counter assistant who gave a would-be armed robber the brush off by brandishing a broomstick at him has been commended by a sheriff.

Plucky pensioner Mary Robertson, 60, grabbed the sweeper and held off raider Michael Joyce, 25 — forcing him to flee the Cowden’s shop in Gourock empty-handed.

Now Joyce has been jailed for two years.

Sheriff Iain Fleming told him: “I must publicly commend Mary Robertson.
“As a result of her brave actions you were foiled.”

The Telegraph told last month how Joyce tried to hold up the Shore Street store with an empty glass Irn Bru bottle — demanding that Mary open the till.

But his subsequent sentencing diet heard how he received a 20-month prison sentence at Dumbarton Sheriff Court last week for knife and disorder offences.

Joyce’s lawyer, Gerry Keenan, said of the attempted robbery matter: “He was very heavily intoxicated, so much so that he had to be taken to hospital when the police found him.

“Officers could not even administer a caution and charge against him because he would have unable to understand or comprehend it.”

CCTV images from the incident, released by the Crown Office following a request from the Telegraph, show Joyce just prior to and during the haphazard hold-up.

Footage of the drama played in court showed a hooded Joyce struggling to keep his balance during the botched raid.

Prosecutor Kevin Doherty told how Mary and fellow staff member Melissa Wallis, 18, ‘kept their eyes’ on Joyce as he fumbled in his pockets.

Mr Doherty said: “Mr Joyce moved towards the counter and produced an empty glass Irn Bru bottle and brandished it towards the witnesses.

“He demanded that they open the till.

“Mary Robertson asked him what he’d just said and he repeated that he wanted the till opened, as he continued to brandish the bottle.

“She told him that she couldn’t open it, to which Mrs Joyce replied, ‘Open it or I’ll open it’.

“Mrs Robertson could see that he appeared to be under the influence of something, but that he did not smell of alcohol.

“She lifted up a sweeping brush and pointed it at Mr Joyce and told him in no uncertain terms to leave.”

Joyce — who was found at Gourock Railway Station after fleeing — committed the offence on February 5. 

Lawyer Mr Keenan told the court: “He wishes to apologise for his actions.

“He has a younger sister who is due to start work in a shop and the thought of her being subjected to the kind of thing he did frankly horrifies him.”

Sheriff Fleming told Joyce that the two-year sentence imposed on him at Greenock would run consecutively to the 20 months for the Dumbarton case.