A SOUTHAMPTON woman carried out two knife-point robberies in the space of 10 minutes.

Helen Archer, 44, used a seven inch kitchen knife to threaten a Co-op check-out worker on January 2 before demanding cash from the


The court heard the robberies were a “cry for help” after benefit bosses declared her fit to work.

After being handed a wad of cash, she left the store and walked to another Co-op, ten minutes away, before again pulling out the knife and demanding money.

Archer’s mini-spree was brought to a halt when a member of the public told her to stop and waited with her until police arrived.

As Archer was arrested, a police body worn camera recorded her saying that she had carried out the robberies because she wanted them to “lock her away and throw away the key”.

Southampton Crown Court heard she had recently lost an appeal with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that meant she was ruled as fit to work after a long period off due to her mental health issues.

The court heard that the decision plunged Archer, who suffers from depression and anxiety, into mental health difficulties prior to the robberies.

The court heard that Archer stole about £260 in cash in the first robbery and a number of £10 and £20 notes in the second.

As Archer left the store, she was stopped by a member of the public who asked her to wait until the police arrived – which she did.

In mitigation, Edward Warren said Archer’s actions were a “cry for help”.

He said Archer, who pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of possession of a bladed article, had recently lost an appeal with the DWP meaning she was set to lose some of her benefits.

He said Archer likely had undiagnosed autism and struggled to deal with change, and that she was “isolated” following the death of her husband.

Mr Warren added: “Her cat was her only companion, but it has been adopted by another household because of her time in custody.”

Judge Peter Henry sentenced Archer, of Warburton Road, Southampton, to 40 months in prison.