A MAN who made throat slitting gestures with a knife blade towards a family during a siege at a city centre shop has been jailed.

Alex Hartwig also had a hammer and he and fellow raider Daniel John Rocks were drunk when they went to Fishergate News near the York bar walls, said Alasdair Campbell, prosecuting.

“He and his friend frankly terrorised the family including two young children who were effectively having to barricade themselves within,” the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC, told York Crown Court.

“This was in my judgement an appalling affray and is requiring of a significant sentence of custody.

“The people of this city would have been absolutely appalled on a Sunday afternoon to see drunks behaving in this way in a newsagents’ shop that was providing a service for the local community.”

Hartwig, 30, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to affray on September 24, carrying a Stanley knife blade in public, and having a hammer as an offensive weapon.

He was jailed for three and a half years.

Rocks, 41, of Burdyke Avenue, Clifton, is wanted on warrant, having failed to attend court to be sentenced for affray.

For Hartwig, Mark Partridge said he had had the blade to self-harm himself and was suffering from mental illness for which he was receiving medication.

He had found the hammer down an alleyway leading to Rocks’ then home close to Fishergate News.

He didn’t remember the affray, but had thought he had got involved to help his friend until he was shown CCTV of the attack.

Mr Campbell said the incident began in the shop when Rocks swung a punch at the shopkeeper during an argument.

In the fight that followed, the court heard how both defendants attacked the shopkeeper.

They also heard Hartwig had kicked out at him and hit a pregnant woman.

A young girl in the shop at the time, “clearly in fear of what was taking place” ran to safety, said Mr Campbell.

Hartwig and Rocks were thrown out of the shop, but repeatedly came back.

As the family inside held the front door shut against them, Hartwig took the blade out of his pocket.

“That blade was used as a threat by drawing it across his throat, clearly directed as a threat towards the family”, said Mr Campbell.

A child called police who drew their tasers when they arrived outside the shop. Rocks and Hartwig were arrested outside the shop.

Hartwig has a long list of criminal convictions, starting when he was 15 including for violence and public disorder.

The judge told him: “This represents a milestone in your criminal career. It is now your fortieth appearance before the court.”

Hartwig was on prison licence during the siege having been released partway through a sentence for house burglary.