AN armed robber who attempted to hold up four Southampton businesses in a seven-hour spree has today been jailed for 14 years.

David Parcell, 41, toured the city shortly before Christmas disguised in thick-rimmed glasses and a beanie hat to carry out the raids.

Jurors had heard how he carried out robberies at Best One store in Sholing, La Pizza in Deacon Road, the Co-op in Tickleford Drive and McColls in Montague Avenue between 2.30pm and 9.30pm.

They saw graphic pictures captured on closed circuit television of one dramatic incident when Parcell leaned across the counter in Best One and waved the pistol at shocked staff.

He was eventually arrested after police had been following a Nissan car which fitted he description of a vehicle being used in the hold-ups.

Parcell, from Nyria Way, Gosport, denied two counts of robbery, two of attempted robbery and four of possessing a prohibited weapon with intent to cause fear of violence.

During his trial at the city crown court, he denied the charges but a jury rejected his defence that he wasn't responsible, and found him guilty of all charges.

Today, the court heard he had admitted to a probation officer he had been behind all the raids.

During the trial, the court heard the gun was found in the garden of the mother of one of the two women in the car Parcell was found in. An expert also told jurors of several key facial similarities between images of him taken in custody and pictures of the robber from the CCTV footage.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Henry accepted the firearm was inoperable but Parcell did not know that and he was prepared to take a risk with a loaded firearm.

The offences, he said, involved considerable planning and he had chosen corner shops because of their vulnerability.