A dad-of-two who robbed a Sheffield bookies with a set square during a daylong crime spree begged a judge to jail him.
Painter and decorator Paul William Smith, aged 38, used the geometry equipment and a plastic bag to create the illusion of a handgun to target Betfred, Hartley Brook Road, Shiregreen.
Sheffield Crown Court heard he stood in the queue before handing a threatening note to assistant Elizabeth Chapman.
When she laughed it off and threw it back at him, he fled in a stolen car and travelled to the nearest Betfred branch in Margetson Crescent, Parson Cross, where he repeated the attempt.
This time, terrified staff handed over £295 believing he was carrying a firearm.
The court heard Smith handed himself in to police the following morning in October last year.
Kevin Jones, prosecuting, said: “Miss Chapman could see he was holding something, but she believed the note to be a joke.
“When she went to tell a colleague what had happened Smith fled and went on to the next Betfred.
“It was only after he had fled the exact content of the note was examined.
“It read ‘I have a gun. Don’t scream. Put the money in the bag or you will never see your children again. It’s not worth dying for.’
“The next morning he walked in to Ecclesfield police station and said he believed he was wanted.
“He was arrested and went on to make full admissions.”
Smith, of Shiregreen, admitted theft, attempted robbery, robbery and taking a vehicle without consent.
The court heard Smith avoided pleading guilty earlier in a bid to make his prison sentence as lengthy as possible.
Addressing Mr Recorder John Smith, the judge, Smith said: “I have been a criminal since I was 15. I’m nearly 40 and this is my last chance. I need at least three or four years to get the help I need to be a better person and change my life forever.
Smith was jailed for seven years.