VIOLENT robbers targeted four corners shops within the space of half an hour, attacking shopkeepers with a machete.

One man needed stitches after being hit over the head with the weapon by Lewis Creighton while his accomplice, Joshua Anderson raided the till.

At Bolton Crown Court Creighton, aged 27, of no fixed address, was jailed for seven years and four months after pleading guilty to committing the robberies and possessing a machete. Anderson, aged 19, of Cox Way, Atherton, was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting the robberies.

Judge Timothy Clayson heard how Creighton and Anderson used a stolen Audi A3 to travel between the shops in the Lowton, Leigh and Atherton areas from 9.30am on August 14.

The pair first targeted the High Spirits Go Local store on Bradwell Road, Lowton, bursting into the shop with their faces covered with a balaclava and mask.

Anderson shouted at shop volunteer Jennifer O'Neill: "Give me all the money in the till" and Creighton hit the plastic screen between them, partially shattering it and cutting her forehead.

Fellow shop worker, Kevin O'Neill was arriving back at the store in his van and, when he realised what was happening, tried to block the front door with the vehicle.

"Mr Creighton struck the windscreen with the machete saying, 'Don't be a f***ing hero'," said Rachel Widdicombe, prosecuting.

The pair went on to raid the Mini Market on Newton Road, Lowton, where Creighton attacked Asad Salim, who was looking after the shop for his friend.

"Mr Salim, who believed he was going to be stabbed in the chest, put his hands up," said Miss Widdicombe.

The victim's hands were cut with the machete and then he was hit over the head with the weapon before money was pocketed form the till and the robbers also snatched three bottles of vodka. Mr Salim needed stitches in hospital for his wounds.

The robbers moved onto R & D Agius in Warrington Road, Leigh, where they took cash, cigarettes and a bottle of gin after threatening owner Paul Agius.

And finally they headed to Food & Drink 4U in Green Street, Atherton, where a member of staff fended off Creighton's machete using a bread tray.

Later that day police found Creighton and Anderson in the Spa Road, Atherton area. Creighton was discovered in a garden Wendy house where he claimed he had been sleeping rough.

The court heard that although the defendants have previous convictions they have never before committed offences so serious.