A “CARING and considerate” man’s life is in ruins after he raided amusement arcades across the city.

Family man Ben Hatcher struggled with the birth of his child, turning to drugs to help him ease the pain of abuse he had suffered as a youngster.

But his usage turned to addiction and to pay off his debts, he armed himself with an eight-inch kitchen knife, a disguise and a plan to rob Golden Amusement Arcade and Quicksilver, both on Shirley High Street, within days of one another and in the early hours of the morning.

The 31-year-old then attempted to rob another Quicksilver in Portswood but was caught after patrons overheard him demand money from a cashier and called the police.

Southampton Crown Court heard Hatcher’s life had “unravelled” since 2016. His actions left one victim “scared and frightened” to go back to work.

Prosecutor Rufus Taylor said that each robbery was similar. Hatcher entered the premises, went to a fire escape at the rear of the building and opened it.

Minutes later he returned dressed in a grey tracksuit, balaclava and gloves and, armed with the knife, made threats for money. In total, he stole approximately £2,500.

Mr Taylor said that when he entered the Portswood branch and demanded cash, the cashier said she couldn’t access it.

He added: “This conversation was overheard by customers who told another member of staff to call the police. Hatcher then escaped. CCTV captured from each of the incidents were reviewed and Hatcher identified.”

Police searched his home and car and found the items linked with the robberies, which took place on January 9, 12, and 17.

Elisabeth Bussey-Jones, mitigating, said Hatcher’s life unravelled due to complicated psychological issues from his past.

He had made several attempts to kill himself but was then introduced to drugs “by the wrong people”.

When he believed he owed debt, Ms Bussey-Jones said that he tried to get the money that he couldn’t afford.

During the hearing, references were read out made by those who knew Hatcher, dozens of whom were in court to support him.

His sister’s read: “He is a caring person who would sit with homeless people and listen to them. He would give his last penny to someone.”

Another added that Hatcher was “caring and considerate”.

However, in sentencing Hatcher, who pleaded guilty to the charges, Judge Peter Henry said the “frightening experience” for those involved left him with no choice but to jail him.

Hatcher, of Winchester Road, Southampton, was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment.