A 23-YEAR-OLD Widnes man has been given a 19-year prison sentence for his role in a series of "frightening" robberies of businesses.

The robberies took place between June and July 2018 in restaurants and cafés in  Liverpool on Smithdown Road, Lark Lane, Aigburth Road, Edge Lane, Allerton Road; and one took place in Crosby.

On all occasions, the offenders entered the businesses armed with weapons including hammers and machetes, and either caused damage or made threats in order to steal cash.

Following an extensive investigation, including CCTV and forensic enquiries, two men and one woman were charged in connection with the robberies.

Today (Friday, March 29), they were sentenced as follows:

  • Frankie Wood, 23, from Widnes was sentenced to 19 years in prison and a further five years on extended license for conspiracy to commit robbery. 
  • Thomas Lacken, 39, of Tudor Street North, Kensington, Liverpool was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery. 
  • Hayley Digney, of Dingle Vale, Liverpool was sentenced to 14-and-a-half years in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery.

Detective Inspector Paul Speight, who led the investigation, said: “These sentences show how seriously the courts have taken this frightening spate of offences, and should serve as a deterrent to anyone who would consider trying similar. We will continue to work closely with any businesses affected by robbery to ensure that the perpetrators are put before the courts.

“Some of these incident resulted in threats with weapons, and in one case a member of staff was struck with a firearm. In addition to this injury, the psychological impact on him and other victims cannot be underestimated. It can be deeply traumatising to experience first-hand the kind of greedy and callous criminal prepared to threaten and damage people and their livelihoods.

“Whether small independent businesses or national chains, the staff working there are most often people living in our communities just trying to earn a living. They should be able to go to work each day safe in the knowledge that they will not fall victim to incidents such as this. We hope that today’s sentences offer some comfort as they continue to come to terms with what they have been through.

“Our officers remain committed to investigating any crime which targets those who live and work in our city, so I would encourage people to keep doing what they have done in this investigation: provide us with information and allow us to take positive action and remove these people and their weapons from the streets.”

Anyone with information on crime targeting businesses should always call 999 if a crime is in progress.

You can also pass on what you know via our social media desk @MerPolCC, by calling 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111. You can also use their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.