A MAN has been jailed for 40 months after admitting to attempting to rob two stores in Ventnor — while armed with an axe.

Matthew Peter Emson, 33, of Pier Street, was sentenced at the Isle of Wight Crown Court on Friday (8).

He admitted having an offensive weapon and two counts of attempted robbery, in Ventnor on October 4, 2018.

Roderick Blain, prosecuting, said Emson first went to Premier Stores and asked for tobacco to sell for money but was refused.

He said his mother was in hospital in Southampton and he needed money visit her.

He then headed to Seasons, a Post Office and shop, and lifted his top at the counter to reveal he had an axe tucked into his trousers. The head of the axe was clearly visible.

He said: "I want money and I have an axe."

He was refused, gave up and left, and the staff dialled 999.

Emson then went to the nearby Harveys Pet Store, this time wielding the axe above his head and holding it a couple of feet away from the shop owner's face while demanding money.

Mr Blain said: "The shop owner tries to humour him and makes to go for the till, but the defendant lowered the axe so the shop owner grabbed it and got him to the ground, dis-arming him.

"The shop owner says he now wakes up with thoughts of what might have happened."

Elisabeth Bussey-Jones, for Emson, said: "He was living in his own flat but had been changed to Universal Credit and was left for five weeks without money. He was driven to steal as a result of lack of funds.

"He accepts he took drugs in the past and this might have altered his mind, and he is addressing his substance misuse. He had been on anti-psychotics and had an altered state of mind.

"He genuinely believed his mother was in hospital in Southampton — which she wasn't."

His mother gave written evidence to the court to say her son's mental health was in a fragile state and he desperately needed help.

Ms Bussey-Jones said Emson self harms, and Emson showed the court his arms, covered with laceration marks.

Judge Roger Hetherington said: "At the bottom of this is a psychiatric or quasi-psychiatric problem you need to get to the bottom of. I accept you have some sort of mental disorder."

The court heard that Emson had been in breach of a community order for 21 previous theft offences and possession of a knife in a public place.

He was jailed for 40 months.