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 Main jailed after being caught following police media appeal


​An armed robber who was caught after members of the public recognised him following a police media appeal will be spending Christmas in prison.

Michael Collier was carrying a large kitchen knife when he threatened a lone shop worker at the Spar shop in Wolsingham on the morning of October 28.

He held the knife towards the terrified woman and demanded that she opened the till before stealing around £100 in cash and making off in a Citroen C1 which he had stolen earlier that morning from a property in Croxdale.

The 40-year-old was identified on various CCTV cameras throughout Wolsingham prior to the incident, and his DNA was also recovered from a cigarette that was dropped on the floor.

At 4.20am the following day, Collier used a hammer to break his way into Admiral Gaming, on Front Street, in Chester-le-Street, before smashing machines inside the premises. He ran off after being disturbed by police before driving off in the stolen Citroen, which was found 20 minutes later abandoned in a street nearby.

He was arrested on October 30 and appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe the following day charged with multiple shoplifting offences - detectives were still investigating the robberies and were unaware at the time that Collier was responsible. Police made an application to remand Collier in custody, but this was rejected by the courts and he was released.

Minutes after his release he stole a purse containing £265 in cash, as well as cards and stamps, from an elderly woman who was shopping in Aldi, in Greenwell Road, Newton Aycliffe.

Collier then went on to commit another two robberies in Sacriston and Carrville before being caught after a media appeal was issued to trace him.

Immediately after the release was issued, a member of the public called the police regarding his whereabouts and he was arrested.

Collier, of Naismith Road, Tow Law, was charged with three counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, tacking a vehicle without consent, aggravated burglary, shoplifting, theft, threatening a person with a bladed article and possession of a bladed article.

He admitted the offences at Durham Crown Court on Thursday (December 19), where he was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.

Detective Constable Andy Denham, of South Durham CID, said: “The crimes that Michael Collier committed were abhorrent. He used violence and targeted lone females in many of the crimes. The events will affect each of the victims and their families for the rest of their lives.

“He had no thought for anyone and would do anything to get what he needed. The guilty plea and sentence is welcomed as now the victims of these cases will not have to re-live these terrifying experiences giving evidence in a trial.

“I am relieved that the sentence and his imprisonment mean that these women affected by his violent robberies can go to work free from the fear of him returning to terrorise them again.

“I want to thank the local communities in each of the locations who assisted and came together to support the investigation by providing good quality CCTV which was crucial in this case. The numerous charges were the result of Police Response, Neighbourhood, CSI and CID teams from across the county working together effectively and positively.”