TWO men who carried out a series of “sinister” knifepoint robberies over a “month of madness” have been jailed for a total of 24 years.

Armed with an array of different weapons, including a meat cleaver and a replica Nazi dagger, a masked James Frampton would burst into betting shops and demand cash.

While waving his knife and using threats like “I’ll slit your throat”, the 30-year-old would empty money from the shop’s safe and till.

He would then flee the scene in a getaway car, driven by partner in crime, Michael Purkiss.

Yesterday, pair were jailed for 12 years each at Southampton Crown Court.

The court was told how the pair targeted nine betting shops across Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire over a 15-day spree in January.

The first took place at Coral in Bitterne on January 13 and the last at Coral in Chandler’s Ford on January 27.

The pair also carried out raids in Romsey, Holbury, Hedge End, West Moors, Poole and Thatcham.

Daily Echo:

Prosecutor Edward Elton said how on each occasion Frampton would burst into the shop wielding a weapon – one of which was described as a dagger inscribed with the motto of the Nazi SS group.

On all but one occasion, the pair carried out the raids in the evening, after the shops had completed a day’s takings.

Mr Elton said the duo carried out reconnaissance of the betting stores on Google Earth and in person prior to the raids.

He added that no less than £3,500 was stolen during the spree, in which more than a dozen members of staff were threatened.

One staff member, Katherine Millett, was working at Ladbrokes in Holbury when Frampton burst in.

Speaking in court, she said: “I saw the knife on the counter and it made my heart stop.

“I still have flashbacks now.

“I realise our industry is prone to opportunists, but this was pre-meditated and sinister.”

Daily Echo:

Mitigating on behalf Purkiss, Joanne Chester said the 55-year-old was in the grip of a Class-A drug addiction at the time and could “think of nothing else.”

Ms Chester said Purkiss was “extremely remorseful”.

Mitigating for Frampton, Christopher Gaiger said the 30-year-old also struggled with drug addiction and this had sparked what he described as a “month of madness”.

In sentencing the pair, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, Judge Peter Henry said: “All the people you robbed were just going about their day, earning an honest and modest living and this is how they are treated because you thought they were easy pickings.

“As (Ms Millett) said these were pre-meditated and sinister offences.”

Frampton of Byron Road, Eastleigh and Purkiss, of Arthur Road, Eastleigh, were told they will serve half their sentence in prison.