SHOPKEEPERS who tackled a knifeman as he tried to rob their store have been praised by a judge.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Kieron Naylor had tried to rob the Breightmet Off Licence in Bury Road just before 7am on January 2, tussling with shop assistant Arshad Mehmood over a bottle of cider before running off.

Minutes later he returned, this time masked and holding a knife, which owner, Akhtar Mohammed and Mr Mehmood managed to grab off him.

Sentencing Naylor to two years in prison, Judge Timothy Stead said: "You came back with a wicked looking knife.

"The store keeper showed commendable courage, as did his assistant, in disarming you."

Naylor, aged 34, of Woodgate Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, damaging a moped which he had kicked outside the premises, shoplifting a crate of Budweiser from the Co-op and threatening Mr Mohammed and Mr Mehmood with a knife.

David Lees, prosecuting , said Naylor had committed all the offences on the same day, starting when he tried to grab bottles of cider and, when unsuccessful, ran out of the shop, knocking over a newspaper deliverer's moped which was parked outside.

A short time later Naylor returned with the knife. Mr Mohammed, holding a piece of metal, disarmed the robber, who ran off again.

However, Naylor did not give up and, less than an hour later, stole beer from the Co-op.

Paul Becker, defending Naylor, who is a grandfather and father-of-three, said he had been drinking heavily over the Christmas period.

"It is unusual to commit an attempted robbery and then come back later on with a blade as he did," said Mr Becker.

"He is apologetic and contrite, acknowledging that what he did will have a detrimental effect on the shop, which he has been to many times in the past.

"He doesn't understand why he did what he did. He explained to me that he is getting too old for this sort of behaviour."

The court heard that Naylor was studying for an Open University degree in sports fitness and coaching, which he hopes to continue.

Judge Stead told him that shopkeepers are vulnerable and although no one was injured "a struggle is both unnerving and should not be regarded as an occupational hazard."