Tyldesley men who raided premises in Leigh, Atherton and Boothstown jailed for 13 years
10:04am Monday 16th September 2013 in NW
A 25-year-old man who carried out a series of 14 terrifying armed robberies in the Leigh area has been jailed for 10 years.
Among premises targeted by William Baines, of Elliott Street, Tyldesley was Westleigh Post Office - which he raided three times - two public houses, take away restaurants, shops and a bookies.
Liverpool Crown Court heard on Friday that Baines' 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, aged 23, of Cranworth Avenue, Blackmoor on an afternoon when customers including mums and children 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 McDonalds in Tyldesley Road, Hindsford, Atherton. He had his face covered with a scarf and was carrying a lump hammer and demanded that the tills and safe were emptied.
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 11 pm 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 pub restaurant in Chaddock Lane, Boothstown.
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. Applewood general manager Donna Pilling later told police how it had ruined Christmas for so many of them.
Describing the raiders as 'cowards' she said: "I'm angry that they thought they could put us through this ordeal."
On the evening of January 27 Baines and another man arrived at the Whistling Wren pub at Leigh Sprts Village. Baines had a pair of tights over his head and was carrying a claw hammer and a black holdall.
Inside he demanded they were taken to the upstairs office where the takings were being counted and they escaped with a total of £8,774 cash, said Mr Barr.
On June 14 he struck again at the Westleigh post office, this time with Harper who was wearing a balaclava and Baines, his face disguised, had a knife. He vaulted over the counter and demanded staff open the tills and ran out with about £200.
His fingerprints were found at the scene which led to his arrest and Harper was also locked up.
Baines pleaded guilty to the five robberies and had nine similar offences taken into consideration. The court heard that just four days before the last offence he had been given a four month suspended sentence for his first ever conviction of possessing a bladed article.
Harper, who pleaded guilty to the post office raid, was jailed for three years.
Mr Barr said that Baines' reign of terror began on September 13 last year when he robbed a betting shop in Tyldesley and among other raids taken into consideration was another one at the post office and at the McDonalds restaurant.
He said that without Baines requesting police to drive him around so he could point out where the nine other raids took place he would not have been charged with them.
Steven Swift, defending, said that bizarrely his offending began after he was diagnosed with diabetes which meant he could not join the Army.
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