Masked raiders who held up terrified staff at gunpoint in betting shop robberies in Sheffield and Rotherham have been jailed for a combined total of 33 years.
Workers feared for their lives when Brett Lester Haslam and David Patrick Nuttall, both aged 25, and Ben Porter, 20, stormed bookies in ski masks, brandishing weapons and demanding cash.
A customer present at the time one bookies was raided was so scared he ran out of the shop and all the way home, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Sentencing the three thugs, Judge Robert Moore said: “Offences that target females working in betting shops, often alone during the evening, committed with weapons, balaclavas and shouting threats of violence, are so serious only substantial sentences of immediate custody can be justified.”
Denise Breen-Lawton, prosecuting, said Haslam was at the top of the pecking order and was involved in four robberies.
Nuttall was involved in two and Porter admitted three.
The first was at Ladbrokes in Walkley Road, Sheffield, on April 3. A woman was working alone when two men ran into the shop and one pointed a fake gun at her.
“The males were shouting at her. They were wearing balaclavas. She was petrified and put her hands up,” said Miss Breen-Lawton.
While one man held her at gunpoint, the other stole cash from the safe and tills.
“She described being paralysed in fear and she was sure she was going to be shot and killed,” said the prosecutor.
The men fled in a stolen Ford Focus with £2,100.
Five days later, on April 8, all three - this time masked and dressed in boiler suits - were involved in two robberies using a real sawn-off shotgun.
The first was at Mark Jarvis Bookmakers in Thurcroft, Rotherham.
The trio, one holding a gun, ran into the shop where two women were working just before 8.30pm.
One of the robbers acted as look-out and the others took £1,493 from the till and safe.
Forty minutes later, at 9.10pm the same night, they targeted Coral in Greasbrough.
The door burst open and three men in ski masks came into the shop, one carrying a gun.
They swore at the manager and demanded money, then one leapt over the counter leaving a footprint which was later used to identify him, and they escaped with £390.
Betfred in Maltby was raided four days later on April 12 by Porter and Haslam, who were armed with a wheelbrace - later recovered from Haslam’s car.
Miss Breen-Lawton said they threatened a female worker who was so terrified she couldn’t remember the safe code.
They grabbed £220 in coins and fled, leaving her ‘shaken and very frightened’.
The raiders were caught after mobile phone cell site evidence and text messages tied them to the crime scenes, and clothing worn in the raids was discovered at their homes.
Fingerprints and footprints also tied them to the raids, and the sawn-off shotgun was recovered from Haslam’s garden.
Haslam, of Church Street, Wales, Rotherham, was jailed for 15 years.
Porter, of Friars Croft, Wentworth, Rotherham, was locked up for 11 years and six months.
Nuttall, of Crumwell Road, Kimberworth Park, was jailed for six years and five months.
Judge Robert Moore commended detectives DS Andy Marsh and DCs Mark Kimberley and Tom Woodward from South Yorkshire Police.
He said: “The quality of work has meant the men had to plead guilty, as they had nowhere to go.”
Afterwards DS Marsh said they were pleased with the sentences.
“They reflect the seriousness of the crimes,” he said. “These offences not only terrified the shop workers but also left other bookmakers in the area very concerned.”