A TEENAGER has appeared in court charged with carrying out five terrifying armed robberies across the Fylde coast.
Plumber Aaron Hilton is alleged to have been part of a gang who used axes and lump hammers to threaten staff at convenience shops.
The robberies were carried out between December 23 and February 10 at One Stop shops and Co-op stores.
Blackpool magistrates heard Hilton, 19, of Rosebank, Cleveleys, had just applied to join the Army.
He is charged with robbing the One Stop shop on East Pines Drive in Anchorsholme, the Co-op store on Fleetwood Road North in Thornton, the Co-op on Fleetwood Road in Fleetwood, The One Stop outlet on Rossendale Avenue North in Thornton, and the Co-op village store at Staining.
Two women were threatened by hammer-wielding raiders at The One Stop on East Pines Drive in Anchorsholme on Thursday, December 23. The shop manager was grabbed by her throat by one robber who then punched her in the face when she refused to hand over the keys to the safe.
Two men held up the Co-op on Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, with a hammer on Tuesday January 4 while on Thursday January 27 two men again brandished a claw hammer while holding up staff at the Co-op on Fleetwood Road in Fleetwood. They then fled with cigarettes and cash.
Two staff members – a man and a woman – were held up by two thugs armed with a hammer in the One Stop shop on Rossendale Avenue North in Thornton on Sunday February 6.
They threatened staff before stuffing cigarettes into a duvet cover. Customers and staff were threatened by two masked men armed with an axe and a screwdriver at the Co-op store on Chain Lane, Staining, on February 10.
It is alleged more than £11,000 in cash was stolen in the raids as well as hundreds of packets of cigarettes.
Alison Quanborough, prosecuting, said the charges involved were very serious and the incidents had generated widespread publicity.
The case was adjourned until May 26. Hilton was remanded in custody.