Two teenage brothers tried to rob a bookies after their criminal stepdad told them to “prove they are men”.

The youths, aged 16 and 17, burst into Ladbrokes, in Newland Street, Witham, and attacked manager Linda Beales.

The bungling crooks left empty handed and were filmed on CCTV.

They were arrested by police eight days later.

They both admitted attempted robbery at Colchester Youth Court yesterday and were sent to a young offenders’ institution for a year.

The boys have been living in local authority care – one in Tiptree and one in Chelmsford – since the incident on January 7.

The court heard their stepdad, who has a string of convictions, told then to “go out and show me you’re a man”.

Philippa Beswick, representing the 16-year-old, said: “He wanted them to be a littleteam that goes out to commit robberies to make money for the house.

“The stepfather drove them and waited around the corner until they had committed the offence.

“The offence would never have been carried out if it was not for the influence of the stepfather.”

Ms Beswick said her client had received abuse from his mother following the offence and had encouraged him to seek a restraining order.

Stephen Moriaty, representing the older brother, said: “He obviously sees himself as a big criminal and wants to have a firmwhere his sons are out committing crimes, too.”

Victim Mrs Beales, who has managed the bookmakers for 21 years, told the court she is still suffering psychological trauma as a result of the incident.

She was on her own and was closing the store when the teens burst in at about 10pm.

The brothers pushed her to the ground and held her there, but eventually ran off down a nearby alleyway.

Mrs Beales, who suffered bruising and friction burns, said the incident had damaged her confidence.

She said: “When the shop door clicks my stomach feels sick.

“I am no longer confident working alone in the shop, which is a problem as it is a requirement of my job.

“Recently, when I was in a supermarket, I screamed when someone ran past me.

“I have had flashbacks of the incident.”

The pair admitted attempted robbery and were both given 12-month detention orders.

Half of the sentence will be served at a young offenders’ institution and the other half under supervision.

Matthew Batten, chairman of the bench, told them: “This was an offence where you gained nothing, but put the victim through a tremendous amount of stress.”

Acourt order means we cannot identify the defendants.