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Police appeal - did you see man who tried to rob bookies?

Police think Mansfield residents may hold the key to identifying a man who tried to rob a bookmakers' shop at the end of last year.

The incident happened at around 9.20pm on Wednesday 9 November 2011, when a masked man walked into the William Hill betting shop in the Ladybrook Place shopping precinct, Ladybrook Lane.

He threatened 55-year-old manager Carol with a firearm before demanding she hand over cash.

Her colleague Sharon raised the alarm and the man left empty-handed.

The suspect is described as being between 5ft 7ins and 5ft 9ins tall and of medium build. He is believed to have a fair skin tone and was dressed in a dark-coloured coat with a hooded top and dark, fitted trousers, possibly jeans. He wore dark-coloured gloves on his hands and a cream/yellow mask, which had a beak.

He spoke with a local accent and walked with a distinctive gait.

There were no customers in the shop at the time of the attack and while neither Carol nor Sharon was injured, they have suffered lasting mental and emotional effects.

After 34 years with William Hill, and nine of those years at the Ladybrook shop, Carol has not been able to return to work since that night in November. She continues to receive counselling and prescription medication.

She said:"I loved that job and I was good at it, but I don't feel like I can handle it now.

"I am a wreck. I wake up from nightmares and think I see him at the top of my stairs, watching me.

"I don't go out on my own anymore, even during the day, and when I do go out I avoid looking at anyone and just do what I need to do and go home. It's ruined my life."

As for Sharon, it took more than three months to find the courage to return to work.

The mother-of-two said: "I'm on sleeping pills for the first time in my life.

"It's really knocked my confidence, especially on the late shift. My husband now meets me outside the shop when I've finished.

"I'm dreading when the nights draw in."

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has offered a reward of up to £10,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the prosecution of the offender.

Two men and a woman arrested and bailed in connection with the robbery were subsequently released with no further action.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Temple is heading up the investigation. He said: "We know the offender entered and left the scene via the front door. Were you in the vicinity around the time of the attack? Might you have seen something that would help with our enquiries?

"I urge people from the area to cast their minds back to 9 November last year.

"It was a dark, cold, dry winter evening on that particular Wednesday, a few days after Bonfire Night weekend.

"Frankie Cocozza had been on the front pages of the papers that day after being axed from X Factor.

"The front page of the Mansfield Chad told of a 'Widow's call for justice' after her husband died when he was crushed by pipes in an accident at Thoresby Colliery in July 2009.

"Chesterfield football club beat Tranmere Rovers 4-3 in the northern Johnstone Paint Trophy that evening.

"Perhaps you had nipped into the neighbouring grocery shop for a pint of milk before it closed at 9pm or were leaving the Ladybrook Hotel pub.

"Did you see a man matching the description behaving suspiciously in the area? He may not have been wearing the mask or indeed carrying an obvious weapon.

"If you think you can help us solve this case, please call us."

Witnesses or anyone with any information about the perpetrator of this crime should contact DS Stuart Temple on 101, extension 805 3463, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting incident 863 of 9 November 2011.

Published 15 August 2012

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