THREE Birkenhead teenagers have been jailed for 18 months after holding up a Wirral shop at knife point and making off with cash, cigarettes and alcohol.

There were emotional scenes in court today as the three, one aged 16, the other two 17, were handed custodial sentences by District Judge Michael Abelson.

All three pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and possession of a bladed weapon in a public place.

Wirral magistrates court heard how the youths escaped with cigarettes, two bottles of alcohol and £1,500 cash from the till after threatening a member of staff at BRS Food and Wine on Greasby Road, Greasby, on February 19.

The group, armed with kitchen knives, entered the store with their hoods up and faces covered at around 9.45pm after deciding earlier that day that they could carry out a robbery and get away with it.

One of the gang pulled a knife and shouted “give us the money or I will kill you” while the others filled a rucksack with cash and booze.

But they were stopped by police on Cortsway just 15 minutes after running from the scene when police patrolling the area recognised them from descriptions given.

Officers found one of the gang to have four packets of cigarettes in his pocket and all three were arrested.

Clothing, a knife and a rucksack containing cash and bottles of alcohol were found the next day close to where the teenagers had been arrested.

The knife matched the description of one missing from the home of one of the parents.

Family members wept in the public gallery as all three were given an 18-month custodial sentence, of which they will serve half.

The teenagers, dressed smartly in shirts, ties and suits, were also emotional as they were led from the dock into custody.

The court heard they came from good family backgrounds and were of previously good character.

Sinead Fearon, representing two of the defendants, said she could not stress enough how remorseful they were of their actions.

District Judge Abelson said: “This is a terribly distressing case for all of your families.

“I can see the devastation and the suffering as a result of this.

“You are three really decent young men and I have read some very positive things about all three of you.

He added: "This was a crazy enterprise, an enterprise almost certainly bound to fail as it did fail.

"It was regrettably though a cowardly act on an innocent man.

"Each of you, with faces covered, entered his premises with knives, that's a frightening thing to do to anyone in any circumstance.

"One of you even said "give us the money or I will kill you". 

“I am sure you will not re offend again but this is a serious offence committed in such severe circumstances and a clear message has to be sent out that those people who commit violent crimes like this must face sentences of some length.”

The three teenagers will serve nine months in a young offenders' institution and nine on licence.