DETECTIVES have welcomed the sentencing of 44-year-old armed robber to eight years behind bars after he threatened shop staff with an imitation firearm.

Former soldier Michael Fletcher, of Herbert Street, St Helens pleaded guilty today at Liverpool Crown Court. He was jailed for eight years for threatening a lone female staff member with an imitation firearm before stealing a quantity of cash at at Dream Tan, Pool End, St Helens on August 18, 2018.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Sumner said: “This was a brazen robbery, in which the staff member was directly threatened with the imitation firearm. This must have been a very frightening experience for her and I hope today’s court result offers her some sense of justice.

“The sentence handed down to Fletcher should send out a clear warning to other criminals who think it is acceptable to target businesses in this way and wrongly believe they will get away with it. They won’t.

"As we have done in this case, we will look at every avenue to try and trace the person(s) responsible so they can be brought to justice."