A VIOLENT robber who crawled along the counter of a bookmakers in Poole with a knife in his hand has been jailed.

Gary Boothe, 40, carried out a string of crimes in Poole and Bournemouth last year.

During one robbery, which happened at the Coral bookies in Oakdale Road, Poole on the morning of Thursday, November 15 2018, Boothe pulled a six-inch breadknife from a bag and demanded cash.

After climbing onto the counter and crawling along it, a frightened member of staff opened the till and a safe and emptied the cash inside into Boothe’s bag.

The robber made off from the shop with some £720 in cash.

Days later, on Saturday, November 17, Boothe robbed Betfred in Commercial Road, Bournemouth.

During the incident, which happened shortly after 11.10am, Boothe walked into the shop, waited for a male member of staff to go on his break and approached a lone female cashier.

He then pulled a knife from his holdall and threatened the victim with it before leaping over the counter and ordering her to empty notes and change from the till and the safe into the bag.

Boothe left the shop with around £2,240. He made off in a taxi.

He was arrested and interviewed over two days on November 21 and 22 after his victims picked him out during an identification procedure.

His fingerprint was then forensically linked to the scenes.

Detectives also then arrested him again in connection with the theft of cash from the Co-op in Queen’s Road, Bournemouth on Monday, October 15, the theft of a large amount of stock from Vape of Good Hope in Fairmile Road, Christchurch on Tuesday, October 16 and the theft of an iPad Mini from Solutions Inc in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth on the same day.

A member of staff at the Co-op attempted to shut Boothe’s hands in a till after he reached in to steal the money. As he ran out of the store, he dropped a bag which contained a large kitchen knife.

Boothe, who is of no fixed abode, admitted two counts of robbery, three thefts and three counts of possessing a bladed article in a public place. This week, he appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court for sentence.

He was jailed for five-and-a-half years, although a judge also ordered him to serve an extended licence period of a further five years and three months due to the danger he poses to the public.

Victims of the robberies and the theft at the Co-op were praised for their “impeccable bravery”.

Detective Constable Aimee Lloyd, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Gary Boothe was responsible for targeting businesses in and around the Bournemouth and Poole areas over a sustained period of time.

“He took a knife to the bookmakers and threatened a member of staff for his own gain. This must have been a terrifying experience for them.

Dorset Police takes offences such as this extremely seriously and we will do everything in our power to investigate these incidents and bring offenders such as Boothe before the court.”