Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

'Elvis' armed robber gets life term

Martin Reilly wearing a disguise while committing armed robbery at William Hill in Hove

A serial armed robber who dressed up as Elvis Presley and sported other bizarre disguises when he targeted betting shops across Britain 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 hold-ups.

Sitting at Brighton Crown Court, 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. She said: "Although none of the victims of these robberies suffered any physical injury, all of them suffered mental anguish and some of them are still suffering the psychological effects today."

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 - whose UK number one hits included (You're The) Devil In Disguise - by donning aviator-style sunglasses, stick-on sideburns and a black wig. His crimes stretched across seven police force areas, sparking a nationwide manhunt - and images of his outlandish costumes drew widespread publicity.

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 during his crime spree.

When Reilly was eventually arrested in Hereford in October last year, he told police: "I never hurt anyone. There's no need for all this, I've never used a real gun or hurt anybody. You won't get any trouble from me."

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