Leeds betting shop robbers sentenced to 12 years

TWO men who terrified betting shop staff in a series of raids at bookies in south Leeds have been jailed for 12 years.

Darren Bickersteth, 27, and Karl McShane, 26, threatened female members of staff with fake guns and weapons on various occasions during a two-month period this summer.

Bickersteth, of Manor Farm Close, Belle Isle, Leeds and McShane, of no fixed address, were found guilty of robbing William Hill, at Penny Hill, Hunslet, of May 5.

The pair were also convicted of robbing William Hill, Leeds Road, Outwood, on May 12.

McShane was found guilty of robbing William Hill, Beeston Ring Road on May 27.

Bickersteth was found guilty of attempting to rob William Hill, at Belle Isle, on July 10.

Both men were also found guilty of three charges of having an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

During the two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, the jury heard how the robbers wore balaclavas or covered their faces with scarves and used other weapons including an axe to frighten staff.

One worker described how she felt physically sick after she locked herself in a room at the back of the shop only to have the door kicked down and a fake weapon pointed at her head.

During the attacks, which were caught on CCTV footage and played to the jury during the trial, staff were made to hand over money from the till or empty gaming machines.

DNA evidence and trainer prints linked them to some of the crime scenes.

The jury found McShane not guilty of the robbery of Coral bookmakers, Rothwell, on April 29.

Bickersteth was found not guilty of the robbery of Coral bookmakers, Belle Isle, on June 18,

Both men were also found not guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery at Thwaite Gate post office, Hunslet, on May 13.

After the hearing Det Con Ria Broadhead, of City and Holbeck CID, said: "Bickersteth and McShane stole a substantial amount of money through a series of crimes committed across just one month.

"They were identified at an early stage by officers who were able to arrest them and put a stop to their offending, despite their best efforts to remain in hiding until their next robbery."

Accountants Hentons merge with York-based Forster Scott & Co