A DESPERATE robber who carried out knifepoint raids at two betting shops in three days was today (Thursday March 27) jailed for ten years.

Richard Black, who was said to have “an appalling record”, including several previous offences of robbery, escaped with a total of only £490 from raids at Ladbrokes, in Gallowgate, Newcastle, and Coral’s, in Chester-le-Street, on July 20 and 22 last year.

Durham Crown Court heard he entered both during quiet evening periods, carrying a six to 7in-bladed knife and “disguised”, in one wearing sunglasses with zipped up coat, and a ski-mask and gloves in the second.

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But the court heard he left the manager of one targeted shop fearful of going to work for some time after the raid, while he leapt over the counter grabbing notes at the Coral’s branch, terrifying two female assistants.

Peter Schofield, prosecuting, said police checked cctv footage from the area round Coral’s, in Front Street, and a figure was seen leaving the premises, going into bushes to change his appearance, before taking a taxi back to Gateshead.

On checking the area, the knife, gloves and Black’s mobile phone were recovered, while officers also recognised him from the footage.

He was arrested and made no reply in interview, but DNA matches subsequently confirmed the recovered items belonged to him.

Forty-eight-year-old Black, of Brandon Gardens, Gateshead, admitted two counts of robbery, plus one of handling stolen goods, at a previous hearing.

The handling offence related to a £22,000 Audi car, found in Black’s possession bearing false registration plates, days after being taken following a burglary at the owner’s home, in Gosforth, Newcastle, on November 30, 2011.

Mr Schofield said Black was on bail for the handling offence when he committed the bookmakers’ raids.

The court heard his record includes previous robberies and other offences dating back to 1980, for which he has served prison sentences of up to nine years.

Andrew Rutter, mitigating, told the court: “He became indebted to men of some notoriety, the sort of people one doesn’t refuse.

“It was out of desperation to get them off his back that he committed these offences.

“He felt he had no other way to meet the demands placed on him other than to commit them.”

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince added an extended four-year licence period on Black’s release from prison due to the likelihood that he will commit further serious offences.