A robber has been jailed for more than three years after he told supermarket staff he had a knife and gun before making off with more than £750 worth of cigarettes and other items on the same day in separate incidents.

Ashley Kharbouch, of Old Tea Warehouse, Amersham Hill, High Wycombe, stole groceries and cigarettes from the Co-op, in Plomer Green Lane, on April 1 this year after threatening staff.

Judge Sheridan, sitting at Aylesbury Crown Court this morning, heard that Kharbouch went into the store first at 7pm and put several items in his basket.

The 35-year-old took his items to the till and was “muttering” something to himself about cash, saying to a member of staff: “If you don’t let me go I’ll stab you.”

Kharbouch told the member of staff he had a knife in his pocket but did not take it out, leading the member of staff to believe he was trying to make out like he had a knife but did not.

He then left the shop with the items and the police were called.

Kharbouch then returned to the shop at 8.30pm on the same day. He went to the till with an empty basket and asked staff to fill it with cigarettes, telling them he had a gun.

Prosecutors said he had his hands in his pocket and looked like he was fiddling with something to make it seem like he had a gun, but did not take it out on this occasion either.

He also asked staff to open the till for cash and a staff member told him he could not as the key was locked away in the back.

Kharbouch made off with £790 worth of goods, the court heard.

His defence lawyer said Kharbouch had been on a “downward spiral” since his partner kicked him out after she found out he was heavily involved in drugs.

He told the court that Kharbouch had a stable relationship with his partner, with whom he also shares children, and had been with her for 17 years.

She found out about his involvement with drugs and threw him out of their house.

The defence lawyer said: “He was desperate for money and he was desperate for drugs, and he didn’t pay attention to the consequences for himself or others.

“His wife kicking him out was the catalyst for him being in this court today.”

He said Kharboush was now “fit, well and healthy” and his partner had re-engaged with him.

His former employer was also said to have given him some money and Kharboush said the “desperate situation” was “madness”.

Kharbouch pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and robbery and not guilty to one count of affray, instead pleading guilty to a lesser summary offence of Section 4 under the Public Order Act, which is to cause fear or provocation of violence.

He was sentenced to 40 months behind bars, with the judge telling him he was eligible for a 25 per cent discount on his sentence, which he was given.