A HAPLESS robber who failed in a “ham-fisted” attempt to hold up a North Berwick supermarket while carrying a knife has avoided a jail sentence.

Liam Inglis brandished the 20cm blade after bursting into the Loco store on Lochbridge Road and demanding cash and cigarettes from assistant Tracey Hillhouse.

But the masked man was forced to flee the store empty-handed after Ms Hillhouse bravely refused to hand anything over in March last year.

Inglis, 20, ran from the store and dumped the kitchen knife before being caught by police.

Inglis, currently of New Horizons, Florabank Road, Haddington, pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and he returned for sentencing on Monday.

Lawyer Christopher McFarlane told the court that Inglis had carried out “a fairly ham-fisted robbery attempt” and the “incident was over fairly quickly”.

The solicitor said that his client’s life was “out of control at the time” due to drug taking but he was now clean after becoming a father for the first time last month.

Mr McFarlane added that Inglis “takes full responsibility” for his crime and that he accepted the incident must have been “frightening for the complainer”.

Sheriff Chris Dickson described the robbery attempt as “a serious matter” but said he was prepared to impose an alternative to a custodial sentence.

Inglis was placed on 18 months of supervision and told he must carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

He will also have to wear an electronic tag and stay at home between 8pm and 5am for the next 150 days.

Sheriff Dickson also banned Inglis from attending at the Loco store for the next 12 months.

Previously, the court was shown CCTV of the incident which showed Inglis entering the store at about 4.30pm on March 5 last year, dressed all in black, with a snood covering his face and carrying a knife with a 20cm blade.

Prosecutor Gavin Whyte said: “Ms Hillhouse looked up as the accused entered and approached the counter.

“He was discreetly carrying a black-handled kitchen knife in his right hand. While holding out a plastic bag, he demanded money from the witness but was refused. He stepped closer to the counter and again demanded money but was again refused.”

The fiscal said that Ms Hillhouse “observed the knife by his side” but bravely stood up to him by refusing a further demand for cigarettes to be placed in the bag.

Mr Whyte added: “The accused was shaking and appeared uncomfortable with his actions. He walked backwards towards the front door and exited the locus.”

The worker then alerted police by pressing the store’s panic alarm.

The large kitchen knife “was recovered nearby” and, following a tip-off, Inglis was identified and he was arrested at his home later that day.

Inglis pleaded guilty to assaulting Tracey Hillhouse during the course of her employment by entering the shop with his face covered and demanding money and cigarettes, and attempting to rob her while in possession of a knife on March 5 last year.