An ARMED robber who was once an accomplice of South Yorkshire’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed yet again - after holding up at gunpoint a postmaster and his terrified family.
‘Career criminal’ Patrick Middlebrook, aged 51, had been released from prison only four months earlier after a 15-year stretch imposed in 2001 for identical post office raids.
Back then he was a sidekick of notorious armed robbers Richard Dalton and Michael Lydon, together carrying out £300,000 of raids on banks and post offices across Sheffield and the North, before all three were arrested and Dalton and Lydon went on the run.
Now Middlebrook, of Daniel Hall Street, Upperthorpe, has been jailed for at least 10 years before he can be considered for parole.
Accomplice Kirk Marlow, 29, of Musgrave Crescent, Longley, who acted as the getaway driver, also admitted robbery and was locked up for 12 years.
A third man has never been traced.
Middlebrook was one of two masked thugs who forced their way into a post office in Wragby, Lincolnshire, during the early hours in May this year.
Using an ‘MO’ strikingly similar to techniques employed with Dalton and Lydon - breaking into premises overnight to wait for staff, and crashing through ceilings to take victims unawares - the pair lay in wait before confronting postmaster Glenn Marflitt with a sawn-off shotgun and knife as he moved from his family living quarters into the post office ready to open up.
Lincoln Crown Court heard Mr Marflitt’s terrified wife and adult son were tied up and bundled into a cupboard. The postmaster was warned he would be knee-capped if he did not open the safe.
The intruders snatched £20,000 - but police quickly identified the getaway car which was tracked back to Sheffield by automatic number plate recognition cameras, and stopped within two hours. Marlow was arrested with the vehicle - and Middlebrook was arrested following a stand-off with police after being found inside Marlow’s home.
Only £12,000 of the stolen money was recovered.
The court heard Middlebrook was jailed for four years in 1982, and nine years at Sheffield Crown Court in 1992, on each occasion for robbery.
He was released only on January 30 this year from the 15-year term imposed at Hull Crown Court for conspiracy to commit robbery in 10 armed raids on post offices and banks across Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
His co-accused Dalton and Lydon had been granted bail but went on the run. They were convicted in their absence, and sentenced to 15 and 18 years apiece.
Lydon was eventually caught after being spotted outside Meadowhall shopping centre.
And, after two-and-a-half years at large, Dalton was caught in Skegness.
Sentencing Middlebrook for the Wragby raid to an indefinite sentence for public protection, Judge Michael Heath told him: “You are a professional career criminal. I am satisfied you are dangerous and there is a significant risk to the public.
“The ordeal this family had to suffer lasted an hour and 20 minutes. It was a terrifying experience.”
Andrew Smith, defending, said Middlebrook had got work as a van driver after leaving prison but was laid off soon afterwards and quickly got into debt. David Eager for Marlow said he was deeply sorry for his part.
y driver he did not enter the building, and was genuinely sorry for his part.