A tourist has been jailed for holding a petrol station attendant hostage after a cocaine binge at a hotel near Okehampton. 

Alan Howard spent the night snorting two lines of cocaine and drinking beer at a hotel at Sourton Cross before he carried out a rampage of offending.

He had left the hotel for a time before he returned while suffering from a paranoid delusion that he was being hunted by a gunman.

The receptionist let him in but he ran to her counter, ripped out a Perspex screen and vaulted onto her side of the desk.

The female hotel worker, who was on her own in the foyer, was so terrified that she sought shelter in a laundry cupboard while calling the police. Howard then took her phone and left, dropping it outside.

He turned up at the nearby Shell filling station and shop where another female employee was also working alone. She saw him running towards the door and tried to lock it but did not get there in time and Howard barged in.

She had also called 999 and police arrived to find that Howard had once again vaulted the counter of the shop and had the terrified cashier in an armlock.

He had picked up a metal food tray on his way through the shop and was holding it in front of him like a shield with one hand while the other was around the terrified woman’s neck.

The scene was filmed on a police body cam where she could be heard sobbing and shouting ‘please let me go, please let me go’ as the police tried to calm down the attacker.

Howard was also highly agitated and shouted that the police were going to shoot or stab him. He said: “I’ve been shot at once. They are going to kill me, you have a knife.”

He eventually let go of the woman after a couple of minutes and police were able to help her climb over the counter to safety before using incapacitant spray to subdue Howard.

Plasterer Howard, aged 38, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, admitted false imprisonment, affray, criminal damage, assaulting police and breach of a suspended sentence. He was jailed for a total of ten months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

The shop assistant read out an impact statement in court in which she said she used to enjoy her job but is now fearful of customers and nervous on her own while working at night.

She said: “He needs to realise the huge impact he has had on me personally and on my working life. I don’t think things will ever be the same again. I won’t forget what happened, being held against the wall by my neck.

“I believed at the time that he may injure or kill me, although I did not fear for my life once the police were there as I knew they would help me.”

Miss Evie Dean, defending, said Howard is deeply remorseful and has written a letter of apology.