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11 June 2017, 10:19
An armed robber from Wolverhampton who threatened staff at a bookmakers with a gun has been jailed for more than five years after his distinctive bucket hat helped police identify him.
Tyrel Lewis-Hill demanded cash from Betfred in Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Bentley, on 13 July last year as he warned terrified workers “no alarms, no panic buttons, nothing funny".
The 26-year-old fled with cash but was caught on CCTV on the day of the raid wearing distinctive clothing - including his bucket hat and jacket.
West Midlands Police released his image in a public plea for information and within days he handed himself in to police - claiming he wanted to clear his name after family and friends contacted him after seeing the appeal.
Lewis-Hill denied his involvement saying that, although he resembled the robber, it wasn’t him and he hadn’t visited the bookies for a considerable time.
However, West Midlands Police detectives obtained clear CCTV to identify his clothes and digital facial recognition technology to prove he was the attacker. These proved crucial in helping officers to secure his conviction following a trial.
Lewis-Hill, of Upper Street, Tettenhall, was found guilty of two counts of robbery - against both staff members - and possession of an imitation firearm and was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Tuesday 6 June.
Detective Inspector Jackie Nicholson, from Walsall Police, said: "This was a terrifying ordeal for the two members of staff who were threatened with a gun and forced to hand over cash.
"Lewis-Hill then casually walked towards the door while pointing the weapon at the staff before making his escape. We will never know if it was real or fake but regardless it was a hugely traumatic experience for the victims.
"We secured excellent CCTV footage which showed him wearing distinctive clothing; and it seems after releasing his image he was recognised by those close to him who encouraged him to come forward to police.
"But even though he protested it wasn’t him, we were able to use expert facial recognition evidence to present a strong case. He is now behind bars and will have plenty of time to reflect that crime doesn’t pay."