A KNIFE-WIELDING robber who has been committing “terrifying crimes” since he was 12 years old was yesterday jailed for four years.

Benjamin Sicolo, now 22, left shopkeeper Rashid Ghaffar terrified after holding an eight-inch blade to his throat during a robbery at Sovereign Stores, Corporation Road, Newport.

At Newport Crown Court, Judge Philip Richards sentenced Sicolo to four years, calling him a “dangerous offender” who poses a significant risk to the public.

Judge Richards added: “This is not just because of the horrific facts of this case, but the series of violent, terrifying crimes you have committed since you were 12 years old.”

Sicolo’s offending began in 2002, when he admitted two counts of possessing an imitation firearm and two counts of attempted robbery.

In 2003 there were convictions for robbery and possessing a knife, while the following year another attempted robbery and then further convictions for affray, possessing an imitation firearm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, damaging property and possessing drugs.

Sicolo was sentenced to two years in June 2011 for possessing heroin with intent to supply. But after being released in May this year, he robbed the Sovereign Stores on July 28.

Prosecutor David Thomas said shopkeepers Rashid Ghaffar and Jamal Najeeb saw Sicolo hanging around the store at around 9.50pm.

He then entered the shop and the complainants became nervous due to his behaviour, so they attempted to close early.

Mr Thomas said: “Sicolo then grabbed Mr Ghaffar from behind, with his arm around his neck in a headlock and placing the knife to his throat.”

He then made threats that he would hurt him, making Mr Najeeb fill a bag with packets of cigarettes worth £40 and £130 cash.

While neither man was injured, Mr Ghaffar said in a victim impact statement he suffers nightmares and flashbacks, adding: “I felt completely helpless, in fear of losing my life.”

After his arrest Sicolo, of no fixed address, said his memories of the incident are hazy as he had drunk four cans of Fosters lager and smoked a cannabis joint.

He told police he didn’t knowwhy he committed the offence as he didn’t need the money.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing a bladed article.

Judge Richards sentenced Sicolo to four years for robbery with a concurrent term of 12 months for possessing a bladed article.