WHEN hapless Liam Darby tried to hold up his local betting shop with a rock the staff thought he was joking.
The 20-year-old is a regular at Ladbrokes and they recognised him straight away.
But when the assistant Wayne Newman realised he was serious he handed over £1,600 – most of which Darby dropped on his way out.
Darby’s own barrister Barry McElduff described his actions as ‘idiotic’, saying: ‘One can scarcely think of a robbery of a shop that was more likely to come undone than Mr Darby’s behaviour in his local Ladbrokes – a place that he regularly goes in to and a place that when he approached the counter the staff thought he was joking to begin with because they know him so well.’
He added: ‘Having been given the money by the employee Mr Darby is so drunk he is dropping the money as he leaves the store.’
With his distinctive shaved eyebrows and a tattoo on his neck it was not hard for the staff to recognise Darby, who regularly played on the gambling machines in the shop.
The baffled shop assistant told him: ‘What are you doing, you come in here all the time, you’re on CCTV.’
But Darby, of Ann’s Hill Road, Gosport, was determined to get his hands on the cash.
Minutes before the raid on Ladbrokes in Forton Road, Gosport, he had gone into the nearby Co-op store in a failed robbery.
There, he had used a can to threaten staff but they ignored his demands for cash and told him to get out.
As he left the Co-op he threatened a customer who also refused to hand his money over, telling Darby to ‘just walk away’.
The father-of-one was arrested four days later on March 12.
Darby, who has previous convictions for theft and assault, pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted robbery at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Mr McElduff added: ‘They were drunken, idiotic, spur-of-the-moment offences for which Mr Darby hangs his head in shame.’
The court heard Darby had been given a number of community orders which he had breached.
Sentencing him to two-and-a-half-years in a young offenders’ institute Recorder Stuart Jones QC said: ‘You have thrown away a lot of chances.
‘These offences mark a serious escalation in your criminal behaviour.
‘If you have any sense at all you will behave yourself.’