A robber who threatened staff with a firearm that looked like an AK47 has been convicted and jailed for seven years.
New father, Earl Patterson was told by a Judge that his actions had terrified staff at a bookmakers and convenience store.
Patterson, 37, was on a community order at the time of the offences, which included having help for his drug problem. Although he denied the robbery and attempted robbery, he did admit he had taken drugs that night.
Although the menacing looking weapon has never been found Recorder David Altaras said he was satisfied it was an imitation firearm, although the staff who faced it would not have known.
Patterson, of Ashpole Avenue, Bedford, who became a father a month ago while he was on remand in prison, was found guilty of four charges by a jury at Luton Crown Court on Friday. Their verdicts were unanimous.
He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempting to rob Miss Siana Spencer at the Corals Betting shop in Williamson Way, Kempston, robbery at the One Stop shop in Wootton and two charges of possessing a firearm or immitation firearm at the time of the robberies.
David Stanton for the prosecution told the jury that shortly before 8pm on September 9 last year Miss Spencer was working at the betting office and preparing to close it for the night when the defendant came in.
His face was masked, but as he got to the counter with its glass screen, it slipped and the cashier could see his face and recognised him.
Mrs Stanton said he demanded “Give me the money” but Miss Spencer, although shocked and scared at the sight of the weapon shouted
at him “Get the f... out the shop Earl”.
Mr Stanton said that same evening the defendant is said to have gone to the One Stop shop in Wootton.
It was around 10pm and shop worker Balwinder Kaur was preparing to lock up for the night.
Suddenly, the jury was told, a man entered the shop with his hood up and his face covered and holding a weapon similar to the one seen earlier at Corals.
The prosecutor said he brandished the weapon in her face before she tried to run to the rear of the shop.
“He chased her and caught hold of her and told her to give him the money,” said Mr Stanton.
He added: “She was forced to open the till and gave the defendant three to four hundred pounds.The defendant then left with the money.”
The jury was told that because Mr Patterson had been recognised by Miss Spencer at the earlier robbery, it didn’t take Bedfordshire Police long to apprehend him and he was arrested the following day.
The prosecutor said he he didn’t answer questions put to him by officers, but instead gave a prepared written statement in which he said he hadn’t taken part in any robbery and on the night in question had been at home with his partner.
Mr Stanton said when he was arrested his mobile phone had been seized by police and examined.
He said as a result it had been discovered through cell site analysis that Mr Patterson’s phone had not been at his address but in the area of both robberies.
Patterson was jailed for three years for the attempted robbery with four years consecutive for the second robbery. He was given concurrent sentences for the firearm offences.
Recorder Altaras told him: “You have a long criminal record, albeit for nothing as serious as this before.”