A ROBBER who held up a petrol station and two stores at knifepoint has been jailed for six years and nine months.

Joseph Kingsley, 19, burst into the Esso garage, in Kingshill Road, last March during the height of the fuel crisis panic buying, wielding a 10-inch kitchen knife and demanded staff hand over cash.

It was the third in a series of robberies over an 11-day period, during which he also held up a branch of Costcutter and Oakleys newsagent in Corsham.

Yesterday Swindon Crown Court heard Kingsley carried out the spate of amateurish robberies – he did not cover his face in the first incident and fashioned a makeshift balaclava for the second – and made off with only £1,000 in total.

In the Swindon raid, Kingsley and an accomplice, who acted as a lookout, targeted the Esso garage at 8.15pm and threatened the single member of staff behind the till into handing over £120.

In September 2011 he also stole £2,000 worth of copper and lead piping from a farmhouse in The Locks, in Devizes, which was being renovated Prosecutor Tessa Hingston said: “He was arrested on March 28 and bailed in respect of both Corsham robberies but, within 48 hours, he robbed Kingshill petrol station.

“He had his face fully covered with a scarf and took £120. It was very similar to the other two robberies, with the knife being waved in the face of staff.

“The Crown says he showed an evolution of offending, starting with a low level commercial burglary to an amateurish knife robbery. He then became increasingly sophisticated and can be seen on CCTV at Costcutter waiting outside the store for an opportunity.”

Kingsley, formerly of Lower Allington, Chippenham, had previously admitted three counts of robbery and three of possessing a bladed article.

But he denied a further three of each charge and an attempted robbery, and those charges were left to lie on file.

Marcus Davey, defending, said Kingsley was full of remorse for what he had done, having stopped offending because he knew it was wrong.

After an abusive upbringing he said Kingsley had been thrown out by his mother when he was 16 and was homeless and out of work when he committed the offences.

“He committed all these offences because of a need for money for rent and food,” he said.

Jailing him, Judge Euan Ambrose said: “On each occasion the premises targeted were small businesses. Their vulnerability makes the offences more serious.”

The judge ordered three other allegations should lie on file, including that Kingsley had taken part in a robbery at the Esso in Royal Wootton Bassett the day after the Kingshill Road raid.

A week later he was also accused of robbing the Best One Express, in Clifton Street, Swindon, then again on Monday April 9 at McColls, in Chippenham.

The final count was an attempted robbery of the Hythe Road Store in Old Town, where the would-be raider was chased off by the shopkeeper.

Speaking after the case Detective Constable James Newbery from Swindon CID said: “We are happy with today’s sentence as it reflects the seriousness of these offences and the impact they have had on all of the victims involved.”