Court cuts armed raider’s jail term

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AN ARMED robber who carried out a series of raids on bookmakers in an array of disguises – including an Elvis Presley outfit – has had his sentence slashed by a third on appeal.

Martin Reilly was jailed for life in April after he targeted betting shops including Betfred and Ladbrokes in Eastbourne and across the south of England and stole around £20,000 in the robberies – forcing terrified cashiers to hand over the cash at gun or knifepoint.

The 53-year-old career criminal, of no fixed address in Northamptonshire, was ordered to serve at least 12 years behind bars after admitting a string of offences at Brighton Crown Court.

But his minimum term was today cut to eight years by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, who said the original tariff was ‘too long’.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the court Reilly committed the spate of robberies between July and October last year, targeting bookmakers in Eastbourne, Hove, Brighton, Portsmouth, Westcliff-on-Sea, Bedford and London. Each time, he went into the bookmakers and demanded cash from members of staff, threatening them with either a gun, a knife, or both.

He then forced them into toilets, kitchens and storerooms in the shops, before fleeing with the cash – netting £20,000 in total from the raids.

Several of his victims suffered long-term psychological effects as a result of his actions, with some having to give up their jobs, and others having to take sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.

Reilly wore a series of bizarre disguises – including sideburns, a wig and sunglasses which made him look like Elvis – to hide a distinctive scar on his cheek.

In February, he admitted seven counts of robbery, one of attempted robbery and seven of possessing an imitation firearm whilst committing an offence.

The court heard Reilly had a criminal record stretching back to 1993 and was out on licence from a life sentence, handed to him in 1999, for two armed robberies.

His lawyers accepted the life sentence handed to him was ‘inevitable’, but argued the minimum term was ‘too long’ – saying the crown court judge didn’t explain how he arrived at the 12-year tariff.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Sweeney said 12 years was ‘excessive’ in light of Reilly’s admissions of guilt.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, reduced the tariff to eight years, which means Reilly will be able to apply for parole four years earlier than his original sentence allowed.

However, he will not be released until the Parole Board is satisfied he no longer poses a danger to the public.