Serial robber has his life term quashed

Crime news
Crime news

A PROLIFIC robber who was jailed for life after a terrifying knifepoint raid at a Wigan bookie’s shop today saw his sentence overturned by top judges.

Kieran Baines, 26, of no fixed address, already had a string of robbery convictions to his name when he raided Taylor Made Betting, in Hallgate, last March.

He admitted robbery and two counts of having an article with a blade or point and was jailed for life at Liverpool Crown Court last September.

But the sentence was quashed today when three senior judges in London said life sentences should be reserved for only the most serious of offences.

Judge Stephen Kramer QC, sitting with Lady Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Sweeney, imposed a 13-year term, comprising eight years’ jail and five years on extra licence.

“The question for this court is: can it be properly said that this was the occasion when the last resort of a life sentence should have been imposed?” he said.

The court heard Baines had been jailed in 2007 for the violent robbery of a man in a hotel. A year later, he was locked up for a knifepoint street robbery and again in 2011 for robbing a man and taking his car.

He had only been at large for two months – and was again wanted by police for breaching release conditions – when he raided the bookies’ shop last year.

Having realised previously that the shop did not have a security screen, he planned a robbery. After vaulting over the counter, he threatened a female cashier with a kitchen knife, demanding she open the safe. When the time-locked safe would not open, he became impatient and left with the contents of the till.

When eventually caught, he confessed to spending the proceeds of the robbery on cocaine and cannabis.

Sentencing him, the crown court judge said Baines was “dangerous” and that the life sentence was justified.

His lawyers today argued that the judge had paid too much attention to aggravating features of the offence and not enough to mitigation.

An expert who assessed Baines said he suffers with schizo-affective disorder and was probably psychotic when he raided the bookies’ shop, the court heard.

Giving judgment, Judge Kramer said: “Life imprisonment is for the most serious of offences. There have to be a series of factors in a particular case for a judge to justify a life sentence.

“In our judgment, no real consideration was given to the factors that could justify a life sentence in this case.”

The life term was quashed.