An armed robber who held up three travel agents at gunpoint has been jailed for life.
Delroy Blackwood, of Albearn Road in Dulwich, London, targeted shops staffed by women between April and July 2005.
Luton Crown Court was told he stole £116,000 in cash and travellers' cheques during raids in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Yorkshire.
Blackwood, 26, was told he must serve a minimum of nine years before being considered for parole.
In one raid, he used a real gun, which he cocked, causing a young assistant to believe she was about to die.
The court heard that the robberies took place at Thomson's branch in Bedford on 13 May and branches of Going Places in Leeds on 29 April and in Hitchin on 7 July.
Blackwood was on licence at the time after being jailed for seven years for 10 robberies.
He was due to stand trial at Luton Crown Court on Monday but changed his pleas to guilty to three charges of robbery and one of possessing a firearm.
Judge John Bevan QC told him: "You are a dangerous, predatory, persistent career criminal totally lacking in respect or regard for your victims. This case marks the end of your criminal career.
"Your calmness - being willing to wait for time-locked safes to open - and your unnecessary verbal and physical abuse demonstrates a cruel and sadistic side to your behaviour which makes you unusually dangerous."
He said Blackwood must serve a minimum of nine years before being considered for parole.
But he said that was a "theoretical" possibility that he was forced to set down by sentencing principles.
"I make it clear the sentence I am imposing is one of life," he said.
Amelia Forsuhene, mitigating, claimed Blackwood was acting under duress from a London gangster to whom he owed money for damaging his car.