A FORMER soldier who threatened to throw acid at cafe and restaurant staff has been spared a prison spell.

Rowan Hudson attempted to rob the Costa Coffee in London Road, Brighton, and robbed Burger King on the seafront.

Both incidents happened in front of “terrified” families and young children.

Staff at both venues were left shaken and in tears.

The “unstable” 32-year-old was arrested by police and said: “I don’t care, f*** Costa Coffee, f*** Burger King”.

But the former soldier who served in Afghanistan was given a suspended prison sentence because of his struggles with post traumatic stress and the time he has spent in prison waiting for his case to be heard.

The Argus: Police at the scene at Burger King in Brighton in August 2020Police at the scene at Burger King in Brighton in August 2020

At Brighton Crown Court Her Honour Judge Shani Barnes told Hudson: “There will not be another chance.”

Charles Drinnan, prosecuting, said the incidents unfolded at 11.15am on August 20.

He said: “At Costa Coffee the defendant made his way behind the till, and threatened to throw acid over staff.

“When he was at the till he forcibly removed the drawer and attempted to leave the store.

“On the same day at Burger King in Kings Road he went in through the entrance to the collection point.

“He went behind the counter and threatened the manager. He said ‘I will spill acid on you’ and was holding something in his hand.

“The manager feared for the safety of her staff, and sent them to the basement.”

Hudson then “ransacked” the tills, but only managed to get away with £80.

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Mr Drinnan said: “This was a threat to use an abhorrent weapon.”

He said victims will have suffered some psychological distress from the incidents last year.

At the time of the incident, a nearby concerned business owner spoke to The Argus and said: “For a young worker to be threatened with something like acid, or a knife, or a gun, it must be traumatising. Police came and parked outside, they were here very quickly.”

The Argus: Rowan Hudson was caught on CCTV making the acid attack threatsRowan Hudson was caught on CCTV making the acid attack threats

When he was interviewed by police, Hudson was asked if he had taken any drugs or alcohol.

“I have taken s*** loads,” he replied.

Matthew Simpson, defending, asked for a suspended sentence in “exceptional” circumstances as his client has suffered trauma as a child and while serving as a soldier.

Judge Barnes said those who saw the incidents “must have been terrified”, and said Hudson had shown he was mentally “unstable”.

Hudson, of The Drive, Hove, was ordered to complete nine months of drug rehabilitation and 30 sessions with the probation service during his two-year suspended prison sentence.