Armed robber jailed for travel agency machete raid

Wigan and Leigh Courthouse
Wigan and Leigh Courthouse

A knifeman who sparked a public safety alert for a town’s schools after an armed robbery has been caged for four years.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a man with a machete after the Co-op travel agents in Leigh, was held up last February.

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Nearby schools were alerted to ensure that children went straight home after their lessons.

And a police helicopter, firearms teams and dog officers were all deployed to the Bradshawgate area before the suspect was tracked down.

Police confirmed at the time that members of the public helped to give chase to a young man believed to be responsible for the hold-up.

This led to Aaron Chapman-Phillips being detained nearby and a weapon being seized.

The 20-year-old, who is believed to have been homeless, was charged with robbery and possession of a bladed article.

Later it emerged that he had also been responsible for a similar robbery at another travel agent’s in Middleton.

Prosecutors told Bolton Crown Court that the first knifepoint attack took place on February 17.

A female member of staff was threatened and ordered to hand over money from the safe, after he brandished a 7ins kitchen knife.

Chapman-Phillips, who fled with around £1,000, struck again on February 28, the court heard, after travelling to Leigh.

In a similar approach to 11 days earlier, he produced a knife and made demands from a female cashier.

He is thought to have escaped with a similar amount of money - but staff were able to offer a description for police.

He was sent to a young offenders’ institution by Judge Timothy Stead, having pleaded guilty to two offences of robbery and two charges of possession of a knife at an earlier hearing.

Praising the public’s help at the time, a Leigh police spokesman said: “With assistance of members of the public who gave chase to the offender, a male was detained nearby, and the weapon recovered, along with other evidence.”