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Irish raider dressed up as Elvis is jailed for life

AN Irish armed robber who dressed up as Elvis Presley when he targeted betting shops has been jailed for life.

Martin Reilly (53) used wigs, hats, false beards, moustaches and a fright mask to alter his appearance and hide distinctive scarring on his cheeks during armed hold-ups across Britain.

Sitting at Brighton Crown Court yesterday, Judge Paul Tain told Reilly he would serve a minimum of 12 years for the armed robberies which left his victims "immensely frightened".

He told Reilly his guilty pleas to seven armed robberies, one attempted armed robbery and seven counts of possession of a firearm at Lewes Crown Court in January this year had saved his vulnerable victims from having to attend court to "recite the information they are no doubt reliving in their post-traumatic stress disorder state".

Reilly carried out the raids between June 13 and October 10 last year after falling out with his probation officer who had told him he could not move back to Ireland where his family lives.

Prosecutor Amanda Kelly said many of his victims were still suffering from anxiety as a result of the armed robberies.

Reilly was out on licence, having been released from a previous life sentence in 2005 for similar armed robberies, when he committed the offences at bookmakers in Brighton, Hove, Eastbourne, Woking, Surrey, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, Bedford, Bedfordshire and west London.

In one raid he impersonated Presley by donning aviator-style sunglasses, stick-on sideburns and a black wig.

During each offence he would enter the betting shops, usually after a single member of staff had just opened up, and demand cash from the tills and the safe while brandishing an imitation firearm, or occasionally a knife.

The court was told he locked his victims in toilets, kitchens and store cupboards before escaping with thousands of pounds in cash. In total, he took £23,000 (€27,600) during his crime spree.

hnews@herald.ie


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