Robber jailed after just nine days

JUST nine days after committing an armed robbery only hours after being released from an Ipswich court, William Lilley finds himself back in jail today.

JUST nine days after committing an armed robbery only hours after being released from an Ipswich court, William Lilley finds himself back in jail today.

The 22-year-old is now beginning a five and-a-half year prison term for holding up a petrol station assistant with an empty BB gun before fleeing with cash.

Balaclava-clad Lilley burst into the Sainsbury's station at Warren Heath on the outskirts of Ipswich, carrying a BB gun and demanding money.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that the two female shop assistants were "shaking and extremely frightened" when the 22-year-old, of Spring Road, Ipswich said: "hand over your money". They gave him £1,195 during the raid on July 7.

The father-of-two pleaded guilty to armed robbery and theft at an earlier hearing on July 9.

The court heard that on the day of the offence Lilley had appeared at the town's magistrates' court where he pleaded guilty to offences of dishonesty.

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Charles Riddleston, mitigating, said Lilley was sentenced to a 12-month community rehabilitation order. He said Lilley had suffered from "depression and anxiety" since he lost his job and became in debt.

He added that Lilley was also having problems in his relationship with his young children's mother.

When he spoke to his solicitor about the robbery he said: "I feel sorry for the ladies if there was anything I could do for them to make sure they were alright. I am sorry. After my sentence I would do anything I can to reassure them I am sorry."

Mr Riddleston said the BB gun was not loaded and Lilley had actually helped the police to find the abandoned gun after he had admitted committing the offence.

Judge John Devaux reduced a six year sentence to five and a half years because of Lilley's early guilty pleas which saved the court extra expense.

The speed with which the case progressed to a conclusion is an illustration of how the justice system has changed to try and ensure the increasing number of cases does not clog the courts up.

Lilley's case is one of the first examples of its kind in Suffolk, where the offence, an arrest, a charge, a plea and a sentencing have taken place within eight days.

The changes have come after top civil servant Martin Narey streamlined the system. This was to ensure cases would be hastened through the courts without having a detrimental effect on the defendant's legal rights.

Today Lilley's solicitor Charles Riddleston said his firm Saunders, Gooding and Riddleston, based in Queen Street, Ipswich, were comfortable with the procedure which has become increasingly commonplace over the past few years.

He said: "In this particular case Mr Lilley was refused bail when he appeared at magistrates court the day after he was charged and the case was sent to crown court for a preliminary hearing.

"The courts are under pressure to manage their business efficiently. Therefore when there is an opportunity to make good, swift progress as in this case, then the courts will appreciate it when the parties can do so. The prosecution were ready with the indictment, I was ready, the client had admitted the offence to police in interview and his instructions were that he was guilty, so it was not a problem to do everything yesterday.

"I was able to present full mitigation having seen my client. It was to his advantage to have it dealt with quite swiftly because the judge gave him extra credit for the case proceeding to a conclusion quite quickly."

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