'Elvis' armed robber jailed for life

 


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

"Several of them report ongoing anxiety and sleep difficulties as a result of these offences and virtually all of them say that their daily working lives have been gravely affected by what they experienced."

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.

During each offence he would enter the betting shops, usually after a single member of staff had just opened up, and demand cash from the tills and the safe while brandishing an imitation firearm, or occasionally a knife.

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."

A police search of the self-contained flat Reilly had been staying in at the Charades Guesthouse in Hereford, revealed items of clothing, masks, wigs, a high-visibility jacket, trousers and waistcoats, glasses and goggles, strips of sticking plaster and a tube of "theatrical flesh", similar to those used in the robberies. Officers also found a large knife and an imitation handgun.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all