A cannabis addict who said he developed “a little hobby” of raiding convenience stores at gunpoint was jailed for six years.
John Sandys carried out three attacks armed with two guns, but his total haul was only £200 and eight packs of cigarettes.
He later claimed one of the weapons was an unloaded “Dirty Harry” style .44 Magnum, but neither gun was ever recovered.
The 25-year-old first struck at AVS newsagents in Hawthorne Road, Bootle on May 21 this year, wearing a black coat pulled up over his chin.
Christopher Hopkins, prosecuting, said Sandys pointed a silver handgun under a counter security hatch and demanded cash.
He said terrified shopkeeper Ambikaibakan Mathiyalagan asked if he could talk to him, when Sandys “turned turtle” and fled.
The victim said the incident left him feeling scared for himself plus his wife and child, who were in a back room at the time.
Police circulated CCTV stills and officers received an anonymous tip-off naming Sandys, who had since raided two more shops.
Mr Hopkins played security footage of Sandys at the Bread and Wine convenience store in Breeze Hill, Walton on May 22.
He had a hood pulled up and pointed a black gun at frightened shopkeeper Sujith Suntharalingam, before demanding money.
The clip showed Sandys walking behind the counter, taking £200 from the till and snatching eight packs of cigarettes.
CCTV images of armed robbery at a Bootle newsagents on Sunday, 21 May.
The final raid was on May 27, when the masked yob