Stephen Morgan lost £47,000 in nearly three years
A gambling addict who carried out a string of armed robberies at bookmakers across south Wales in a bid to clear his debts has been jailed for 10 years.
Stephen Morgan from Fairwater, Cardiff, admitted six robberies in two months.
After successful raids at shops in Cardiff and Penarth, he was caught a day after threatening a worker at Ladbrokes in Monmouth in January.
Cardiff Crown Court heard Morgan, who had lost £47,000 in three years, was desperate for money.
Morgan had been holding down four jobs when he planned a series of robberies after being pressed to repay what he owed.
The court heard he targeted small shops with few members of staff.
The first robbery was in Cardiff three days before Christmas.
Morgan was arrested in January, a day after the latest robbery at Ladbrokes Betting Shop in Monmouth, when he threatened an assistant with a knife.
BETTING SHOPS AFFECTED
Ladbrokes, Evansfield Road, Llandaff North, on 22 December
Ladbrokes, St Fagans Road, Fairwater, on 16 January
Corals, Clare Road, Grangetown on 17 January
Ladbrokes, Stanwell Road, Penarth on 18 January
William Hill, Albany Road, Roath, on 19 January
Ladbrokes, Monnow Street, Monmouth, on 28 January
The court heard how Morgan covered his face and brandished a large kitchen knife before demanding staff hand over around £11,000.
Four bookmaker staff members were attacked on consecutive nights from 16 January, all at around closing time.
The court was told Morgan always carried a 9in (23cm) knife, but had never intended to hurt anyone. However, a cleaner in the Monmouth shop said she was "frozen with fear" when he walked in.
His disguise slipped and he was recognised from a photograph. His work van had also been seen in the town.
The court heard Morgan had never been in trouble with the police previously but had got into a "vicious circle" with gambling, hoping for one big win to clear his debts.
He was gambling so much that Le Croupier and William Hill bookmakers were monitoring what he was spending, with nearly £600,000 staked at William Hill since 2005.
He had lost £47,000 in nearly three years.
The court heard Morgan's wife had begged the people who were lending her husband money to stop but they did not.
She even agreed to give her car to one creditor and tried to help by consolidating the loans to pay off some of the money.
The court was told creditors were constantly calling at the family home and telephoning demanding their money.
Judge David Aubrey QC was told Morgan was much loved and respected by family, friends and work colleagues and had been a junior coach and player with Cardiff Rovers Football Club.
Sentencing, the judge said he would recommend Morgan receive counselling and treatment for gambling.