TWO robbers have started prison sentences.

Liam Newman, 31, and Damien Gilbert, 23, both of no fixed address, have been given a total of 16 and a half years in prison between them for the robberies near Worthing.

Newman, 31, mastermind of the robberies in August 2016, was responsible for the first robbery on August 13 and encouraged Gilbert to commit a second on August 18.

Newman had already stolen £800 cash and some £160 of cigarettes from Mr G Mini Markets off-licence in Seadown Road, Sompting, before convincing Gilbert to take part in another.

Gilbert threatened the member of staff on duty at Ladbrokes in Rowlands Road, Worthing, screaming at him “this is a robbery” before ordering him to put cash in a plastic bag he held.

He ran from the bookmakers along Wordsworth Road, only getting away with £70.

A team of detectives working on the robberies established they were connected. They gathered evidence from both scenes and began trawling through CCTV.

They then matched tattoos on Newman’s hands – the number 19 on one hand and 85 on the other, depicting the year he was born – to those on in the CCTV footage.

Detective Sergeant Jason Vickers said: “The incidents were shocking for those involved who really did believe their lives to be in danger when they were having a gun pointed at them.”

Gilbert admitted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm and Newman admitted two counts of each of those same offences

At Lewes Crown Court Newman was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years on extended licence. Gilbert was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison and four years on extended licence.