A 'DESPERATE' man who held up a string of premises in an attempt to get out of spiralling debts has been jailed for seven years.
Thammasat Patibat, of Talbot Road, Ellesmere Port, appeared before Chester Crown Court having admitted robbery and attempted robbery relating to three separate incidents in the Chester area in August and September.
Prosecuting, Mark Roberts told the court the 20-year-old first robbed the Esso Garage in Handbridge on August 29.
He went into the premises wearing a white paper paint-sprayer's suit from Vauxhall, where he had been employed, and with a Newcastle United scarf across his face.
Patibat approached the cashiers, brothers Peter and David Henderson, and pointed an imitation pistol at Peter, telling him: 'Put the money in the bag or I'm going to start shooting.'
He escaped with £410 and cigarettes worth £200. A police search of the area uncovered the paper suit and scarf, which contained traces of DNA.
Three days later, Patibat attempted to hold up Threshers on Queen's Park View. He was armed with a kitchen knife and again wearing a paper suit with a cloth across his face.
Cashiers Ruth Clarke and Anna Rideal were threatened but the panic button was pressed and Patibat ran off. A bag he left behind contained Patibat's fingerprints. The paper suit was found on Meadows Lane and the knife was found on Queen's Park High School's field.
Mr Roberts said Patibat went on to attempt to hold up the Bull and Stirrup pub on Northgate Street on September 6.
He told bartender Grant Norton: 'I've come for the money, the boss knows about it.'
He said the £500 being demanded was 'protection' money which the licensee had agreed to pay him.
Patibat is said to have threatened the bartender, who was a student, showing him the pistol in his pocket and telling him: 'I don't want it to get messy, I've got friends outside.'
When a customer enquired if everything was OK, Patibat ran off empty-handed.
Police found him hiding in a subway under the Fountains Roundabout.
A search of his home uncovered a newspaper cutting of the first incident.
Peter Moss, defending, said Patibat had carried out the offences due to debts of about £2,500 which were owed to loan sharks.
'He must have been a desperate man and saw this as the only way out,' he said.
Sentencing him to seven years in total, Judge Elgan Edwards said: 'There can be no excuse for deliberately going into retail premises to frighten, intimidate and rob.'
Crown Court commendations were awarded to PC Kevin Keay, who arrested Patibat and disarmed him, and to Ms Rideal, who pressed the panic button.