THREE shop workers were locked in a back office after a “terrifying” armed robbery at a Hampshire convenience store, a court heard.

Staff at the Co-op garage in Passfield Avenue, Eastleigh, were preparing to cash up and go home when they were threatened by a man wearing a gas mask brandishing a 6in knife.

William Campbell made off with £5,500 but armed police caught him and recovered the money, Southampton Crown Court was told.

The three victims of the midnight raid were store manager Christopher Kelly, his wife, who also worked for the Co-op, and a young female assistant.


Martin Booth, prosecuting, said the assistant saw Campbell walking towards her in the shop and ran into the back office.

He added: “As she tried to keep the door closed the defendant barged his way in using brute force.

“He pushed a knife between the door and the frame, touching her chest. Luckily no pain or injury was caused, but a knife was brandished and came into contact with the employee.

Campbell said he was facing eviction and was ‘doing it for the kids’.

“Mr and Mrs Kelly didn’t believe he was going to use violence as long as they followed his orders, but it must have been a terrifying experience.”

Mr Booth said the other employee had suffered “serious psychological” harm as a result of the robbery, which occurred on September 20.

After Campbell left his victims used a mobile phone to call the police, who arrived minutes later and unlocked the door.

Armed officers carried out a search of the area and found the raider in Blenheim Road, Eastleigh.

The court heard that Campbell, 32, of Kerry Close, Chandler’s Ford, had previous convictions for offences including theft and battery.


Mark Florida-James, defending, said his client had stayed out of trouble for six years before committing the robbery.

He added: “He was polite throughout.

“He regrets what he did and regrets the impact it had on people who were doing their job and were entitled to do it peacefully.”

Judge Christopher Parker said Campbell had made a “terrible mess” of his life by “attacking vulnerable shop workers”.

He told him: “You went disguised in a mask and carrying a 6in blade.

“You threatened the store manager and his young assistant. You bundled them into a back office and made them hand over £5,500. You also detained the manager’s wife when she arrived to meet her husband.”

Campbell was jailed for 11 years for robbery and possessing a pointed blade, but will spend only six behind bars before being released on licence.