Gun-wielding robber asked Birmingham betting shop cashier if she 'had children' during raid

Falak Zaman, 29, wore gloves and a balaclava when trying to steal from the betting shop. Credit: West Midlands Police

Employees at a betting shop in Birmingham thought they were going to die after a drug-fuelled robber threatened them at gunpoint.

Falak Zaman, of St Benedicts Road, Small Heath, approached a Ladbrokes in Green Lane, Small Heath, as the branch manager prepared to open up on 2 May, earlier this year.

The 29-year-old, who was dressed in all black and wore gloves and a balaclava, forced his way into the shop and told the store manager to do what he said or he would shoot her.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the manager had half pulled up the shutters and unlocked a door before she noticed a masked man trying to force the front door open.

When she went to lock the door, she became aware Zaman was carrying a gun the size of a small mobile phone in his hand.

Zaman took the woman to the back of the betting shop to the safe and told her to open it, but was told only the bottom half could be accessed because of a time delay.

Prosecuting, Miss Sarah Allen said the manager emptied the contents into a carrier bag and her fingerprints were later discovered on the bag found near the property.

Zaman then left the store through a back door fleeing down an alleyway.

Two weeks later, on 16 May, Zaman tried to steal from the same Ladbrokes. He had entered the store and posed as a customer using two betting slips to place bets as well as using a gaming machine.

Zaman waited until one of the employees left to go to another branch and another colleague then went out the back to have a cigarette.

He followed the colleague outside and confronted her, again holding a gun.

Miss Allen said both victims believed the gun being pointed at them was real and that the first thought she was having a heart attack.

Zaman tried to steal from the same Ladbrokes in the space of two weeks. Credit: BPM Media

The court heard the victim had only been working there a couple of weeks and did not know the code for the safe, which caused Zaman to become increasingly angry.

Zaman, who was disappointed with the amount of money in the safe, asked if she had children, as he held the gun directly at her.

He then suddenly announced he was going and left via the same route as last time - the back door.

He took just over £700 during the first raid and £333 in the second.

Zaman was jailed for eight years after previously admitting two charges of robbery and three of possessing an imitation firearm.

Judge Sarah Buckingham said: "Both women were loan females and were targeted because of their vulnerability. They were, to put it bluntly, easy targets.

"Your actions were cowardly and cold and resulted from a motivation to feed a self-inflicted addiction to class A drugs."

Sarah Thorne, defending, said Zaman had ADHD and a drug dependency syndrome.

She said he had expressed remorse, when out of prison worked as a motor mechanic and that he had a supportive family.