TWO armed post office robbers fled empty handed after being chased from the scene by the postmaster, villagers and a postman.
They are now starting lengthy prison sentences after they were caught by "Yorkshire's finest".
The five men who stopped Joseph Crosby and Andrew David Waldron from escaping with thousands of pounds are all to get public rewards.
Waldron, 22, pointed an air pistol at the face of Mike Bunn in his rural North Yorkshire post office on August 11 as Crosby demanded "Put the money in the bag", Austin Newman, prosecuting, said. Both robbers were masked.
But even though he believed the gun to be real, the postmaster grabbed a pickaxe handle and confronted the robbers, who fled empty-handed.
Outside the post office, villagers and a postman saw the pair escaping, gave chase, caught them, and with the help of a farmer, held onto them until police arrived.
Hinderwell Post Office
"This case demonstrates Yorkshire's finest. Acts of extreme valour were done on this day by various members of the public and indeed Mr Bunn himself," the Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC said at York Crown Court.
He awarded £500 out of public funds to Mr Bunn, postman Simon McCluskey and villagers John McDonagh and Carl Schofield, and £250 to farmer Tom Harland.
The robbers had deliberately targeted the post office and timed their raid to when they thought postmistress Christine Bunn would be on her own, he said. But her husband was also in the post office.
"You were prepared to commit armed robbery on a lone lady of middle years but you were no match, cowards that you are, for a Yorkshire postmaster with a pickaxe handle," the judge told Crosby and Waldron.
"You terrorised two hard-working people. In my judgement, deterrent sentences are plainly required," he said. "Attacks upon rural post offices are attacks upon the whole community."
He jailed ringleader Crosby, of Hebron Road, Stokesley, for 11 years. Crosby denied possessing an imitation firearm during a crime, but was convicted by a jury earlier this week. He admitted attempted robbery to a limited degree, but the jury convicted him of the full offence.
Waldron, of no fixed address, was jailed for six years. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm during a crime and attempted robbery.
DC Steve Williams, of the Scarborough Serious Crime Team, said: “This was a deplorable crime by two men who had no thought for anyone else’s safety.
“They were motivated by greed and were prepared to use violence to try to steal hard-earned money from the postmaster and his wife.
Mr Newman said in a police interview, Waldron said the robbery had been Crosby's suggestion. He admitted planning the foiled robbery for some days and that the pair had toured the area looking for post offices without CCTV. They visited the Hinderwell post office, north of Whitby, a few hours before trying to rob it.
For Waldron, Andrew Semple said he had no previous convictions and was an impressionable young man. He owed money to a cannabis dealer, who suggested he break the law to get money. For Crosby, Ben Campbell said his life had spiralled out of control after he lost his marriage and his job. At one point he had been suicidal.
DC Williams, said: “They were caught and brought to justice thanks to the quick thinking of the postmaster and residents of Hinderwell, who gave chase and caught these offenders. They should be commended.
“This sentence reflects the gravity and seriousness of the offence, and it sends out a clear message.”
Mr and Mrs Bunn have since given up the post office.