A grainy CCTV image captures the heart-stopping moment an armed robber terrorised staff at a betting shop in Portsmouth.
The image was used by police in securing the conviction of Gary Barton, who raided betting shops with a knife as lone female workers were closing up.
Barton threatened the terrified women with a large kitchen knife, stole hundreds of pounds and then locked them in the shops.
Covering his face with a cap and a hood, he struck at Ladbrokes in Clarendon Road, Southsea and then three days later at Ladbrokes in Lake Road, Landport, Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard both women were left devastated by the robberies, which took place in March this year.
The 51-year-old, whose life of crime spans four decades going back to when he was a child, with convictions for 111 previous offences, including robberies and violent attacks, was arrested after police identified him from CCTV.
Howard Barrington-Clark, defending, said Barton had given up drugs but became addicted to gambling and got into debt.
‘This is when he falls prey to loan sharks, which is a real problem in Portsmouth,’ he said.
‘It culminates with the loan sharks attacking him, he was stabbed in the face.
‘He was a terrified man who thought, I’m going to have an arm or my head chopped off next time, I have got to get some money.’
Barton, of Arundel Street, Landport, Portsmouth, denied committing the offences when he was arrested but pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery at court.
Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘They were both offences committed with a large kitchen knife, taken and held as a weapon.
‘They were manned by one female member of staff upon each occasion.
‘Both those women would have suffered a terrifying experience as you used the knife as a threatening weapon.’
He added: ‘The aggravating features of these offences were firstly that there were two of them within a very short space of time.
‘Secondly, that they were plainly pre-planned. Thirdly, that you disguised yourself, fourthly that you targeted vulnerable victims and fifthly that you targeted large sums of money.’
Barton was jailed for five years and four months. He will be on licence for five years when he is released.
Outside court, Detective Constable Stephen Ryan, who led the investigation, said: ‘These were two incredibly serious incidents where two lone female shop workers were held at knifepoint, threatened and money was stolen from within the shop.
‘We worked with various agencies which led to his arrest.
‘Without a doubt the public are safer with him off the streets.’