AN ARMED robber who raided convenience stores and a betting shop, smashed his way into cigarette cabinets and gaming machines with a crowbar and sledge hammer.

Greedy James Geraghty and his accomplices were so determined to grab large amounts of cigarettes that they used a duvet cover to carry their haul from the McColl’s store in Astley on December 18 last year.

The makeshift bag was so heavy that they had to drag it along the floor and it ripped.

Bolton Crown Court heard how 31-year-old Geraghty, of no fixed address, and his accomplices also raided the Co-op in Astley on January 25 and the Co-op in Aspull the following day, each time wearing masks and smashing their way into the cigarette cabinets, stealing goods worth thousands of pounds

Simon Barrett added that on February 17 Geraghty also targeted a Betfred betting shop in Leigh at 7.45pm when customers were inside.

The two men, one carrying a hammer, carried out a 10 minute wrecking spree.

“The customer service counter protective glass was smashed, fixed odds betting terminals were smashed, a computer screen was smashed and £160 and a mobile phone were taken,” said Mr Barrett.

Geraghty was identified by his DNA and arrested after he was spotted driving dangerously on Twist Lane, Leigh on June 9.

During a police chase he drove at double speed limit and the wrong way down a one way street, smashing into an oncoming vehicle. He ran off and a knife was found in the Volvo S60 he had driven.

Geraghty pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery and having an offensive weapon, dangerous driving, possessing a knife and driving without a licence or insurance.

Neil Ronan, defending, said the father-of-two committed the offences in order to pay for his cocaine habit.

At the time he was on licence after serving a previous robbery sentence.

“He was in the ravages of an unsustainable addiction, said Mr Ronan.

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Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Geraghty to six years and nine months in prison and banned him from applying for a driving licence for five years and two months, after which he will have to take an extended driving test.

He told the defendant: “Considerable violence against property was used. Between you you smashed your way to whatever you could steal.

“To describe these offences as determined is to understate the position.

“You got away with substantial amounts of property. People were put in fear.”