Serial armed thief jailed for 10 years

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A SERIAL robber who carried out a string of terrifying armed raids in the Leigh area has been jailed for 10 years.

Among the 14 premises targeted by William Baines was Westleigh post office – which he raided three times – two public houses, take away restaurants, shops and a bookies.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Baines’s horrifying crime spree had begun after his hopes of an Army career were dashed when he was diagnosed with diabetes. On one of the post office raids he was accompanied by Stefan Harper and as this took place during an afternoon mothers and children were present and were left badly traumatised.

Peter Barr, prosecuting, told how the first of the five robberies to which Baines pleaded guilty took place on November 15 last year at the McDonalds in Tyldesley.

As he fled with £2,000 cash he shouted: “I’ll be back in for sausage and egg McMuffin tomorrow.”

Exactly a month later he struck wearing a hoodie and mask and carrying a hammer at Westleigh post office and stole £458 from the tills and some cigarettes.

Nine days later at about 11pm on Christmas Eve he and two other men, two wearing balaclavas and one with a stocking over his head, struck at the busy Applewood Farm public house in Astley.

Baines had a knife, described as “a pirate’s knife” and his accomplices had a machete and crowbar.

They shouted to the 25 frightened customers and 20 staff that it was a robbery and herded them to a central area and Baines forced a woman employee upstairs to open the safe.

The gang fled with £6,000 in a stolen Mitsubishi Shogun leaving the victims shocked and scared.

Baines and another man also raided the Whistling Wren pub in Leigh, stealing almost £10,000. He and Harper were finally caught when they left fingerprints at the scene of their June 14 raid on Westleigh post office.

Baines, 25, of Elliott Street, Tyldesley, pleaded guilty to the five robberies and had nine similar offences taken into consideration. Harper, 23, of Cranworth Avenue, Astley, who pleaded guilty to the post office raid, was jailed for three years.