A SERIAL shoplifter who threatened a brave shopworker with a knife has been jailed.

Nicholas Boucher told Simon Nield he would stab him when the Tesco staff member pursued the drug addict after he stole various meat items from the Water Street branch of Tesco Express in Radcliffe.

After pulling a blade on Mr Nield, Boucher ran off but was arrested by police officers just two hours later.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Gavin Howie, prosecuting, said Boucher, 40, was spotted in the store by shift leader Simon Nield at around 8.20am on December 6 last year.

Mr Nield recognised him as a “prolific shoplifter” and saw that he was carrying around six or seven pieces of meat towards the exit of the store.

The worker approached him but Boucher said “I’ve got a knife” and Mr Nield backed off before following him down Water Street.

Boucher dropped a number of items as Mr Neild continued to follow him and when he pulled out his mobile phone to phone the police he shouted: “you better stop or I’ll stab you” while brandishing a knife with a two inch blade.

Boucher, who appeared via videolink from HMP Forest Bank, then ran off but officers recognised him from CCTV footage and at 10.15am he was spotted wearing a distinctive coat identical to one he was wearing in the store and arrested.

He was taken to Bury Police Station but refused to leave his cell to be interviewed.

Mr Howie said Boucher, of no fixed abode, had been imprisoned twice since the offence and had 30 previous convictions for 90 offences including two for robbery.

He added that in a victim impact statement, Mr Nield had written how he had “felt anxious and genuinely threatened” during the incident.

Daniel Calder, defending, said Boucher had taken the knife to the store in order to remove security tags and had not intended to threaten Mr Nield.

He said the 40-year-old had spent over 15 years in prison during a “life defined by drug abuse” which had started due to his father’s use of drugs sparking a “grimly familiar production line”.

Mr Calder said Boucher had a “serious and permanent injury to his left hand” due to drug use but had been coping well in prison and was engaging with staff.

“He (Boucher) is ready and motivated to make changes and there are some positive signs he is using his time constructively,” said Mr Calder, who added that Boucher had suffered serious childhood trauma and abuse while in the care system.

Sentencing Boucher, who pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a bladed article, to three years and nine months in jail, Judge Maurice Green, said: “You were clearly prepared to threaten the use of that knife to avoid being caught.”