An armed robber from Sheffield who absconded while on day release from prison went on a terrifying spree of knifepoint raids.
The fugitive struck at nine off-licences, newsagents and supermarkets – stabbing a pensioner in the hand at one of the stores – and also carried out a burglary.
Nicholas Overton, aged 35, was an inmate at HM Prison Thorn Cross, near Warrington, serving an 18-year minimum prison sentence for a string of robberies.
He was jailed Sheffield Crown Court in 2006 for 23 robberies carried out across four counties over a two-month period. Each involved the use of a handgun.
But in August, Overton, of no fixed address, was allowed out of HMP Thorn Cross to go on ‘work experience’ at a photographic and printing store.
Overton disappeared with £1,500 takings before holding up shops at knifepoint in Cheshire and Staffordshire.
He was recaptured by armed police at a house in Crewe after 28 days.
Overton has now been given an additional six-year sentence at Chester Crown Court, to run concurrently with his original term, after pleading guilty to three robberies and asking for seven more robberies, a burglary and thefts from vehicles to be taken into consideration.
Pat Stonier, 66, needed four stitches in her hand after she was slashed by Overton while trying to stop him snatching the contents of the till at the Wine Cellar, in Stone, Staffordshire.
She said: “My instinct was to cover the till with my hands. As the knife went into my hand, blood starting coming out and I moved it away. I am really glad he is behind bars, he is obviously dangerous.”
The court heard the robberies and burglary were committed in August and September.
Chester Crown Court heard that despite the length of Overton’s original minimum term imposed at Sheffield Crown Court, he had been a ‘model prisoner’ who had been expected to be released on parole next year.
The court heard police realised Overton was the suspect for the robberies after checking DNA from a watch which came off in a struggle while he robbed a Co-op store in Crewe, armed with a six-inch knife.
Det Insp Robert Hassall, of Cheshire Police, said: “We are seeing a dangerous man back behind bars.”