Raider ‘wanted to return to prison’

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AN armed robber nearing the end of his jail term escaped to carry out a spate of terrifying raids - including one in Wigan - so he would be sent back to prison.

After being caught by police following his seven-week crime spree Lyndon Stein told them that he had been due for release soon and did not feel he would be able to cope in society.

The 49-year-old, formerly from Newton-le-Willows, has now pleaded guilty to 13 robberies and attempted robberies and is to be sentenced on Friday.

Stein, of no fixed address, appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court along with Sarah Brennan, the daughter of a former girlfriend, and Joseph Simm, who both pleaded guilty to handling cash stolen in his final robbery.

Simm, 54, of Catherine Way, Newton-le-Willows, at whose home the trio were arrested on June 16 this year, has been jailed for six months and Brennan, 27, of no fixed address, has been put behind bars for 12 months.

Anya Horwood, prosecuting, told the court that Stein received an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum term of five years in Bristol in February 2006 for five armed robberies.

On April 29 this year he escaped from an open prison in Essex and while unlawfully at large he carried out a series of armed raids. He was armed with an imitation firearm, usually a metal tube, tree branch or pole inside a bag, while threatening staff.

Miss Horwood said that after four raids on a beauty shop, bureau de change and building society offices in Oxford, Bristol and Gloucester he moved north and struck at the Co-op in Newton on May 15.

As in previous robberies he handed over a carrier bag and demanded cash. He ordered terrified staff to open the safe and told one woman employee, “get down there or I’ll blow a hole in you.”

However when one employee went to press the alarm Stein ran off and later the same day also had to flee Thomsons Travel Agents in Ashton-in-Makerfield empty-handed. But less than three hours later he robbed Lloyds Bank in Warrington of £4,485.

Stein also raided stores in Gloucester, St Helens, Blackpool and Newton-le-Willows.

He was arrested after a suspicious taxi driver told police about taking Brennan and Simm to the scene not long after the raid and then back to Simm’s home.

Adam Walker, defending, said that his crime spree followed his move to an open prison. “He realised he hadn’t mentally prepared himself for the discipline that was required in such a relaxed regime.

“He didn’t have the willpower to remain there and went on the spree.”