BRAVE staff members stood up to a drug addled thief who threatened them with an imitation firearm as he tried to pay off his debts to dealers who had threatened his life.

It was said that Gareth Heard, 44, had ‘sorted his life out’, however he fell back into a life of drugs when he got into a relationship with a woman who was also a drug user. The pair used together to the point their dealers threatened to stab them if they didn’t pay their debts.

That was why, in a desperate effort, Heard, walked into Gus Jones Jewellers, Ebbw Vale, and demanded cash from the till.

Brave staff members stood up to him including one in particular who sadly has been unable to return to work due to the affect the incident has had on her.

In a heart breaking victim impact stamen read during Heard’s sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court on July 3, the Gus Jones’ staff member described how the incident had made her ‘nervous’, ‘anxious’ and had had an impact on her health.

The woman in question made every effort to return to work, however, in the end she ended sobbing in fear, unable to leave the house other than to see family members.

“I thought I was a strong person and would be able to deal with it,” said the victim. “I am not normally a nervous person, but I feel nervous all the time now.”

After the staff managed to calm Heard down, and police managed to keep him on the phone in the store while they made their way to arrest him, Heard would leave the jewellers in handcuffs apologising to staff.

Heard has an extensive criminal recordHeard has an extensive criminal record (Image: Gwent Police)

The jewellers he attempted to rob in Ebbw ValeThe jewellers he attempted to rob in Ebbw Vale (Image: Google Maps)

In mitigation, it was said Heard had turned his life around since 2016, determined to tackle what he recognised as a drug problem.

That drug problem had led him to build an extensive record of 49 convictions for 79 offences ranging form theft, witness intimidation and drug supply.

On sentencing, Judge Solomon Kahn emphasised the affects of Heard’s actions.

“One cannot begin to understand how terrifying it would have been for those in the shop who would not have known you had an imitation firearm,” said Judge Kahn.

Heard, from the Blackwood area, was sentenced to four years, eight months in prison for attempted robbery and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear.

The offences were committed in May.