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Man who raided bookies has prison term doubled
3:10pm Saturday 27th October 2012 in News
AN armed robber who raided two Worcester bookmakers in broad daylight has had his two-year jail term doubled after top judges ruled it was too soft.
Paul Donovan’s sentence sparked outrage when it was handed to him at Hereford Crown Court in August after he admitted two counts of robbery and possessing an imitation firearm.
But it was upped to four years by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, who said the original term was unduly lenient, following a referral by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC.
Donovan, aged 35, of George Street, Worcester, took £835 in raids on two city bookmakers after brandishing what appeared to be a handgun at staff.
The first raid took place at Backhouse Bet, Angel Street, at 5.20pm on March 26 and the second at Ladbrokes, Derwent Close, Brickfields, at about 3.50pm on April 3.
During the first robbery, he walked in to the shop with what staff believed was a genuine gun – although Donovan said it was a BB gun – and pointed it at a cashier.
The court was told that the raids were amateurish, with one cashier asking if he was joking when he demanded cash.
Lord Justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw and Judge Anthony Morris QC, told the court Donovan wrote letters of apology to the cashiers who fell victim to his crimes.
Lawyers acting for the Attorney General argued his jail term was simply not long enough given the various aggravating factors in the case and urged the Appeal Court to increase it.
Donovan’s legal representatives tried to persuade the court the sentence was not too short, saying it fairly reflected his personal circumstances – including his financial difficulties and desire to spend money on his family.
Lord Justice Toulson said the crown court judge was entitled to make an allowance for Donovan’s background, but went too far.
Following the Appeal Court hearing, Detective Sergeant David Hall, from West Mercia Police, said: “We are satisfied that these sentences reflect the seriousness of Donovan’s offences.
“His robberies had an impact on the communities around Angel Street and Warndon, not least among local bookmakers, who were on alert in case any further offences occurred.
“Armed robbery is a very serious crime because of the impact it has on its victims. Donovan claimed that he used a BB gun, but we still don’t know exactly what weapon he threatened the bookmakers with because it has never been recovered.
“What is important is that the cashiers he robbed thought the gun was real and they were left distressed by their experience.”