A ROBBER targeted Farnworth betting shops three times in three days, terrifying staff and forcing a cashier to open machines at knifepoint.

Drug addict Andrew Martinos and an accomplice used a stolen Astra as a getaway car after robbing the Betfred shop on Derwent Road, Farnworth, and twice robbing the company’s shop on Market Street, Farnworth.

After pleading guilty to the three robberies, possessing a knife and aggravated vehicle taking, 31-year-old Martinos appeared at Bolton Crown Court via a video link from Forest Bank prison.

Simon Barrett, prosecuting, told how Martinos, dressed in a hooded top with his face covered, first targeted the Market Street branch on June 21. It was a Friday lunchtime and customers were inside.

While his accomplice stood watch Martinos, who was holding a crowbar, jumped over the staff counter and told frightened cashiers: “I’ve got a f***ing gun. Give me the money.”

The cashiers fled into the staff room and Martinos kicked the room’s door before grabbing £200 and fleeing in the Astra.

But he did not go far, driving only two miles away to another Betfred branch in Derwent Road.

Mr Barrett told how this shop had a floor to ceiling screen preventing Martinos getting to the female cashier.

“The offender was, again, in possession of some kind of weapon, it may have been the same crowbar,” said Mr Barrett.

The frightened cashier handed over the contents of the tills, total around £250.

Two days later, just before midday, Martinos went back to the Market Street shop.

“He was wearing the same clothing, an inside out sports top, hood up, scarf covering his face, wielding a machete or large knife, demanding ‘Give me the money. Open the f***ing safe’,” said Mr Barrett.

Deputy manager Dale Petryna managed to flee to the staff room but Martinos jumped over the counter and grabbed cashier Joshua Green.

“The defendant, holding the knife towards Joshua Green, demanded that he open the safe,” said Mr Barrett.

Mr Green told him he could not, so Martinos raided the tills and then forced his victim to open four gaming machines and stole more than £600.

Police were alerted and an officer spotted the stolen Astra, which had black tape altering the number plate, on Bury Road, Bolton.

“Trying to get away, the defendant mounted the pavement and drove round the officer’s vehicle,” said Mr Barrett, who added that Martinos then crashed into a fence and tried to run away, but was caught.

Martinos, who tested positive for cocaine, immediately admitted he had robbed the betting shop.

The total amount stolen in the robberies was just over £1,000.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh was told that the crimes had badly affected the staff, who had been “petrified”.

Mr Barrett added that Mr Green had been left “in total shock”.

He said: “When he couldn’t open the safe he was very frightened that the defendant would stab him.”

The court heard that Martinos, of Sportside Avenue, Walkden, has previous convictions for robbery and burglary.

Simon Gurney, defending, stressed that Martinos has never used weapons or serious violence before.

“The defendant is adamant that he had no intention to use the weapons even in the face of resistance to his demands,” he said.

“These are isolated offences. He is a defendant who is ashamed of his conduct, which arose from a dependence on controlled drugs.”

Judge Walsh is due to sentence Martinos today.