AN ARMED robber patiently stood in a convenience shop queue before brandishing a knife at terrified staff.

Drug addict Elliot Rigby demanded cash, telling them: "Listen lads, I'm not f***ing around. I've got nothing to lose here. You need to open the tills now."

But after making off with £180 from the Co-op at Winter Hey Lane, Horwich, 33-year-old Rigby was identified from CCTV footage and arrested.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court he was jailed for four years and eight months.

Justin Hayhoe, prosecuting, told Judge Timothy Stead how Rigby robbed the store just before 3pm on March 1.

Assistant Jacob Marrion was serving other customers so Rigby waited in line until they had gone, before he approached the counter. He then pulled out a kitchen knife with an eight inch blade and used it to threaten Mr Marrion, who was just 2ft away and demanded he open the till.

"He repeated his threat saying they only had two minutes to comply as he had a knife in his hand," said Mr Hayhoe.

When the till was finally unlocked Rigby leaned over and grabbed the cash before fleeing.

Police arrested at Rigby at his home and he admitted committing the robbery and possessing a knife.

He told officers that he was an addict who spent £50 a day on drugs, had mental health issues and had drunk alcohol before taking the knife with him to the store.

"He told police he would either be able to buy drugs with the money or, if he got caught, at least he would have a roof over his head," said Mr Hayhoe.

The court heard how the robbery has badly affected Mr Marrion, who had to take time off work following the incident.

In a victim statement he told the judge: "I have been really well supported by my girlfriend and employer but it's been a difficult decision to go back to work as I am frightened I will experience something like that again and might not be so lucky.

"In the first few days after the robbery I kept recalling what happened and I can't help but think I could have been seriously injured or killed had he chosen to use the knife."

The court heard that, six years ago Rigby, of Empire Road, Breightmet, was jailed after he robbed a woman of her handbag, threatening her with a knife.

Mark Friend, defending, stressed that Rigby's mental health had been declining at the time he robbed the Co-op and, if the till had not been opened, he planned to leave without hurting anyone.

He added that, as he waited in line "he battled within himself as to whether he was going to carry on and do what he ended up doing or whether he was going to refrain."

Sentencing Rigby, Judge Stead told him: "It is true to say you were brandishing a knife saying 'I've nothing to lose' which, to say the least would be very alarming to anyone.

"But there are other sides to your conduct which suggest you are not, in fact, someone who was utterly out of control, and ruthlessly so at the time."