A COCAINE addict first said 'sorry' to a woman out shopping with her daughter before pulling out a knife and grabbing her bag, a court heard.

Ian Strong – who has already served a lengthy prison sentence for robbery and burglary and has several drug offences to his name – twice targeting women at a busy retail park.

The 44-year-old, who had earlier robbed his own partner of money to buy drugs, later told police all he could think of was his "crack pipe".

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said Strong rode up to a woman on his bike at Durham Retail Park in Gilesgate, Durham.

He dismounted and told her he was "sorry" but wanted her bag and would "cut her" if she didn't hand it over.

Durham Crown Court heard the woman, who was with her daughter, suffered a puncture wound to a hand as she tried to fend him off as he jabbed a craft knife towards her.

Mr Baker added she also suffered a scratch to her neck as he forcibly removed one of her earrings.

He fled on his bike with the bag – leaving the woman screaming on the ground as other shoppers rushed to her aid.

Fifteen minutes later that same afternoon another woman shopping at the retail park felt a tap on her shoulder.

She turned as her bag was pulled from her, causing her to be dragged along the ground. Strong was again seen riding off on his bike with the bag.

In victim impact statements read to the court, both women said Strong's actions had deeply affected them, one saying she is now frightened to go out shopping and the other saying she is afraid to leave home.

Mr Baker said Strong's July 27 crime spree began shortly before 1pm when he rowed with his partner over their children's missing X-Box games console.

Strong, who was under the influence of drugs, told her he needed £20 to buy it back, but she refused to hand over any cash.

He raised his fist as if he was going to hit her, then lunged for her coat pocket. Mr Baker said he grabbed £50, some cigarettes and a bank card, but after a struggle his partner managed to recover all but £30.

Strong, of Oswald Close, Gilesgate, admitted three counts of robbery and one of threatening a person with a knife and was jailed for a total of eight-and-a-half years.

He initially denied using any force when arrested at a house in Gilesgate but made his 'crack pipe' remark.

Chris Morrison, for Strong, said he is now remorseful and conceded events that afternoon had left his victims psychologically traumatised, although he claimed their physical injuries were less serious.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince spoke of the deep psychological harm that Strong had caused his victims, all in his desperation for money to buy drugs.