A TEENAGER who threatened shoppers and staff with an axe outside a busy supermarket after going on a bender to celebrate his birthday has been sent to a young offenders’ institution.

Thomas Parsons was so intoxicated celebrating his 19th birthday he can’t remember wielding the weapon in broad daylight outside the Asda store in East Quay, Bridgwater when confronted by staff over a stolen bottle of vodka.

Terrified shoppers watched a stand-off as Parsons told staff to “back up”, while young children and their parents witnessed the incident on May 29.

Parsons, of Taunton Road, Bridgwater, was sentenced to 22 months detention in a young offenders’ institution when he appeared at Taunton Crown Court via video link from Exeter Prison yesterday (June 30).

Judge David Ticehurst said: “What a dreadful way to celebrate your birthday. The experience for those who were shopping at Asda on that occasion must have been absolutely terrifying.

“A young man drunk with an axe, threatening staff and other people.”

The court heard how the drama unfolded shortly before 6.30pm when Parsons entered the store with another man.

Prosecuting, Emma Martin said Parsons left the store with a bottle of vodka still with its security tag on and, when confronted, witnesses reported seeing him wielding an axe above his head.

Ms Martin described the moment when a young mother with her child shouted: “Oh my God, he’s got an axe.”

Parsons was caught out by police - who were carrying out Operation Goodwood nearby – when he was threatened with tear gas and was arrested.

Ms Martin said: “He was upset when he was shown the CCTV and apologised. He was intoxicated and does not remember much because it was his birthday.”

Defending, Paul Light said Parsons showed “exceptional remorse and a very grown up attitude” and wanted to gain some qualifications during his sentence.

He added: “He was appalled by the fact there were young children around.”

Parsons was also ordered to pay £100 victim surcharge.