A HOMELESS man who wanted to be arrested to return to the stability of custody produced a fake gun and committed robbery at a shoe shop.

A court heard Cieran Turner produced the weapon and threatened to shoot a female member of staff if the manageress did not hand over cash.

He was handed about £200 and fled - but was arrested the following day apparently boasting about what he had done.

At Mold Crown Court, Turner, 20, of no fixed abode, admitted robbery at The Shoe Zone in the Deiniol Centre at Bangor on April 22 and possessing the imitation firearm.

He breached a previously suspended sentence and he received a total of three years and four months youth custody.

The court heard Tyler Williams, the manageress, was on the shop floor while another member of staff was in the stock room.

Prosecuting barrister Oliver King said that at 2:20pm, she saw the defendant walk slowly past the shop window. He appeared to be looking into the shop.

Moments later, he entered, approached the till area and said “Can I ask you a question? Is the shop worth robbing?” She replied “No.”

He reached behind him and pulled out a small black handgun which he pointed directly at Tyler Williams. The defendant then asked: “Is there money in your till.” Holding her nerve, Tyler Williams replied: “No.”

The defendant persisted and demanded that she open the till. She said to him: “Please don’t make me do this.” He replied: “I haven’t got a choice. I have to or I’m dead.” Another member of staff then came onto the shop floor. Tyler Williams told the defendant that she would not open the till, said Mr King.

However, he threatened that if she did not open the till, he would shoot the other member of staff in the leg. "She says at this point she lost her nerve. She panicked. She was frightened for her and her colleague’s safety. She honestly thought he was going to shoot her.”

Reluctantly she opened the till and the defendant produced a white carrier bag from his jacket pocket which he threw at her and told her to fill with cash. She did as she was told and threw the bag full of cash back at the defendant. She estimated that there was around £205 in the bag.

The defendant put the gun in his waistband saying: “Look, I’m on camera." He gave his name which to her sounded like Connor Jones and added: " I don’t want to do this I have to.”

The defendant then walked out of the store and onto the High Street.

She immediately called 999 and was in "a complete mess."

Mr King said she couldn’t stop crying and was scared the defendant would return to the shop.

Despite police attending quickly and carrying out an extensive area search, they were unable to locate the defendant.

Around 30 minutes later, the defendant went into the JD sports shop in Bangor. James Sullivan was the member of staff working in the footwear section and he remembered the defendant hurrying into the store. He said he was being chased and needed help in choosing another set of clothes.

Mr Sullivan assisted the defendant in selecting a hooded top, jogging pants and a pair of trainers, which he immediately changed into. The defendant then paid for the items with cash. Before leaving the shop, he asked staff to dispose of his original clothes. They were suspicious and refused.

Seeing an unusual amount of police activity on the High Street, staff from JD approached police and told them about the defendant’s suspicious behaviour. As a result, police located the defendant’s original clothes discarded in a nearby bin.

The following day he stole a bike and cycled towards the Spar shop in Caernaron with a balaclava over his head but was prevented by the manager

Fearing the defendant was about to rob the shop, he closed the door and told the defendant: “I don’t think so”. He then pressed the shops panic button

The defendant got back on the bike and rode off.

As part of the investigation, NWP posted an appeal on social media.

A witness said she had seen the defendant earlier that day and he had said he was going to rob a post office. She had also taken photographs of the defendant that day when he was wearing the same clothing as that worn during the robbery

Turner was arrested on Eastgate Street in Caernarfon on 24th April.

While he was in custody, a officer searched his sister’s address in Caernarfon where he had been living. They found and seized a black plastic BB gun.

Interviewed, the defendant initially denied the offences but then admitted what he had done.

He said that he owed another person money and if he didn’t pay the debt he would be killed. He admitted walking round Bangor town centre casing premises to rob.

Turner said he chose “Shoe Zone” because there were no customers in the shop. He admitted going to the till, taking out the BB gun and demanding money. He also admitted going into JD sports to change his clothes.

He further admitted intending to rob the Spar in Caernarfon. He said he put on the balaclava and was going to grab cash from the till when it was open. However, he saw the manager at the door and did not want a confrontation so he fled.

Defending barrister Elen Owen said that at the time of the robbery he was homeless and living in a tent.

He had left a probation hostel because he received threats, and started "hammering the drugs"to numb the effects of his chaotic and lonely existence.

The defendant was taking Valium, and he had committed the offence in order to get back to the safety and security of custody.

While frightening, it was not a sophisticated offence. The she shop was not an obvious choice to rob.

He did not hide his face and he appeared to have tried to calm his victim when she became upset.

The defendant, she said, was a troubled young man who had self-harmed.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said that the robbery was very serious.

"You threatened her with what she believed to be a genuine hand gun. You told her to empty the contents of the till or you would harm her colleague."

He was arrested when he had seemingly been boasting about what he had done. The store manager believed the gun was real and that she would end up being shot or her colleague would be," said Judge Rowlands.

"She was frightened for her life and thinking of her child back home."

After the robbery she could not stop crying and the shop was locked until the police arrived. Turner also admitted theft and going equipped to steal.