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Dartford-born armed robber Ricky Loft jailed after threatening staff at Whitstable's William Hill betting shop

A robber who terrified staff at a Whitstable betting shop while armed with an imitation gun has been given an extended sentence.

Ricky Loft, from Greenhithe, pleaded guilty to robbery and a string of other offences at earlier hearings and was jailed for six years on Friday and was placed on licence for a further four years.

Ricky Loft has been jailed for 10 years
Ricky Loft has been jailed for 10 years

Loft, 32, had robbed the William Hill bookmakers in Tankerton Road, Whitstable, on November 21 last year, stealing £647.

He had walked into the betting shop with the firearm concealed in a bin liner.

Loft headed straight towards staff making threats and told them to hand over the money.

Loft carried out an armed raid on William Hill bookmakers
Loft carried out an armed raid on William Hill bookmakers

Ian Foinette prosecuting said: “The defendant said ‘Do it or i'll do it ’ (in relation to using the gun), and the member of staff handed over £647 and as he left, he said to them ‘It was a pleasure doing business with you'.”

Loft was also charged with and possessing an imitation firearm in relation to the robbery, and another charge of being in possession of a stun gun on another occasion and a series of other charges including shoplifting, fraud, leaving a hotel without paying and criminal damage.

Loft of Cumbria Court, Greenhithe Boulevard, Greenhithe, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court to be sentenced on Friday.

The court also heard he had been charged with assault and theft in relation to an incident earlier in the day at the B&Q store in Reeves Way, Chestfield, but because of his admissions to the other charges, the theft and assault allegations were dropped.

Dartford-born Loft was, in the run-up to the offences, suffering a mental health crisis said he lawyer, Kieran Brown.

In the run up to committing William Hill robbery, Loft had stolen a credit card from a patient at the Little Brook Hospital in Dartford, where he had been admitted had used it to check into the Rowhill Grange and Spa Hotel, in Wilmington, under the man’s name.

Loft also racked up a £756.45 bill while he was there and disappeared from the hotel without paying when staff became suspicious.

The court also heard that in October last year he walked into an Asda store in Greenhithe early one morning and went into the back area of the store and stole more than £1,600 worth of Samsung mobile phones.

While he had been in the midst of his mental health crisis, Loft had called police on one occasion to tell them he was going to kill himself and had a gun, which turned out to be a BB stun gun.

Mr Brown defending said he had done this in the hope he would be killed by armed officers who were sent to find him.

However, officers were able to grab hold of him and arrest him without firing any shots.

Loft had also admitted stealing food from a Co-op store on another occasion and failing to surrender to custody twice and criminal damage in relation to smashing a window at the Little Brook Hospital.

He was given concurrent sentences for all the other convictions and will serve the six years for robbery.

Investigating officer DS Matt Scott said: “On the evening of November 21 last year Ricky Loft was intent on making some money by whatever means he could think of.

“The flagrant disregard Loft has for public safety and the law means he is now where he belongs – in prison.”

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