TWO masked robbers who staged a terrifying supermarket raid were brought to justice by public-spirited drinkers from a nearby pub.

Alerted to the robbery, several men immediately put down their pints and bravely rushed round to the Co-op to make a citizen's arrest.

Three black-clad raiders had burst into the premises aggressively demanding cash from the three terrified members of staff.

The drinkers managed to rugby tackle two of them and sat on them until police arrived but the third man fled.

The impromptu rescue squad had been summonsed by assistant Derek McIntosh who rushed to the back of the store when the gang burst in and then zizagged around chased by one of them before escaping out the front to the nearby Black Bull pub.

“He returned with the customers, who had no doubt been enjoying a festive drink, and thus you were overwhelmed and caught literally red-handed in the act,” said Judge David Aubrey, QC.

Jailing BIrkenhead men Simon Ignacio and Daniel Kaye today he said, “This was a terrifying ordeal, so terrifying for one of the female assistants, because of the shock, the police were so concerned that an ambulance was summonsed.

“I have no doubt the psychological scars for which you are responsible will live with the three employees.”

31-year-old Ignacio and Kaye, 24, both of Bridge Street, Birkenhead, both pleaded guilty to robbery. Ignacio has been recalled to continue a prison sentence and is not due to be released until January.

Jailing him for three years Judge Aubrey pointed out that he wanted to order the sentence to begin when his previous term expires but the law dictates it had to begin today. He sentenced Kaye to two years four months.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that the raid happened at 9.30pm, on December 30, last year at the Co-op in Pole Street, Standish, Wigan,when three men wearing balaclavas burst in demanding cash.

One of the assistants described how they were aggressively shouting and described it like “a wave of sound”.

One of the gang pushed her to the back of the store, with his hand on her shoulder, demanding money from the safe. She explained she did not know the code and they were unable to get in.

The robbers went to the tills, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage to displays which they knocked over, and put £500 worth of cigarettes in a bin bag, said Mr Pepper.

While Kaye and Ignacio were being held down by the pub customers one claimed he could not breathe but when his neck warmer was removed by one of them to help him he bit his hand.

Defence barrister Paul Becker said that Ignacio, a schizophrenic, had been under pressure to get involved because of his brother’s debt.

Anna Duke, defending, said that Kaye had fallen on hard times in the last 12 months and met Ignacio while living in a bail hostel which was how he became involved.