Escaped prisoner used fake 'gun' made of wood and metal pipes in armed robberies
AN escaped prisoner who tried to carry out two armed raids with a home-made gun is back behind bars.
Alan Murphy, aged 51, pictured, used the imitation firearm to threaten staff at Betfred and A&K Grocers in Halliwell.
He made the “gun” using a 12-inch wooden handle, two metal tubes, cigarette lighters, a firework and air rifle pellets.
Jailing Murphy for eight years at Bolton Crown Court yesterday, Judge Peter Davies said: “I am going to impose an extended sentence upon you.
“I take into account no physical harm was caused but psychological harm was.”
Murphy, who was already serving an indeterminate sentence for a firearms offence, walked out of the open HMP Kirkham and carried out the attempted raids just weeks later.
Mark Monaghan, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court yesterday that Murphy, brandished the weapon as he went into Betfred in Halliwell Road at 9.45pm on Saturday, June 15.
Two women, who worked at the betting shop, were preparing to close.
One of the assistants saw what she thought was a sawn-off shotgun and the pair ran into a back room and called police.
Murphy fled empty handed after realising he would not be able to get access to cash without breaking some of the counter down, the court was told.
Mr Monaghan said: “He looks around, he is of course unable to see the two ladies because they had gone from the counter to the back part of the shop. This meant the front part of the shop was locked up. He would have been unable to get any further without breaking any of it down. He appears to hesitate as it appears to be an empty shop with nobody to point the gun at. Nothing was stolen.”
Four days later on Wednesday, June 19, he went into A&K Grocers in Elgin Street, Halliwell, at about 9.50pm.
Shop owner, Ramesh Patel, was in the store along with another man when Murphy, of no fixed address, walked in and said twice “are you closing early”.
Mr Patel did not initially take on board what he was saying but Murphy then pushed his forward and the imitation firearm touched his neck.
Murphy was “bundled” out of the shop shortly after when Mr Patel’s wife and daughter returned.
He again left empty handed.
The court heard Murphy was arrested on Saturday, June 22, as he tried to steal a pack of Stella lager from Morrisons in Chorley Old Road.
A member of staff stopped Murphy and felt the weapon up his sleeve.
Murphy warned police when they arrived to “be careful with it, it’s loaded. It’s got gun powder and shots”. But gave no comment when he was questioned by officers.
Andrew Costello, defending, said Murphy did not cause any significant or serious injuries during the attempted robberies.
Using the “gun” could been dangerous to him as well as others, the court heard.
He added that Murphy had not “played the system” and had completed courses while serving his sentence with an open mind about being released in the future.
Murphy has a catalogue of previous convictions, including armed robberies, burglary, making threats to kill and false imprisonment.
Judge Davies said: “I am taking into account your total offending and behaviour and the totality to reflect your culpability.
“You pleaded guilty and you will be given full credit for that. These crimes were aggravated by your antecedents but also by the fact you were serving an indeterminate sentence and you had left HMP Kirkham without permission.”
He said the sentence would reflect the physical and psychological harm caused by his crimes.
Murphy admitted attempted robbery, assault with intent to rob, three counts of possessing an imitation firearm with intent, theft and being at large from HMP Kirkham.
He was jailed for eight years for having the imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery at A&K Grocers. He must serve two-thirds of the sentence.
Murphy will be subjected to an extended licence of five years when he is released but is also subject to the indeterminate sentence he was serving before he carried out his latest crimes.