A GAMBLING addict who launched a series of robberies - including one in Droitwich - using a plastic bag full of wires and hand-written notes threatening to blow himself up is back behind bars.
Lloyd Jones, of Glynneath, South Wales, embarked on a two-week spree at betting shops and travel agencies across eight counties in England and Wales.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that the 32-year-old carried out the attacks while out of prison on licence for robbery.
A judge was told the father-of-two used crude disguises in a pitiful attempt to hide his identity, such as wearing a plaster over one of his eyes, before issuing his chilling demands for money.
But despite netting more than £7,000, jobless Jones frittered the money away on drink, drugs and taxi fares.
Prosecuting barrister Tony Trigg said the defendant deliberately targeted women at premises he viewed as "soft touches".
Mr Trigg said: "His method in each case was to use a plastic carrier which had wires protruding from it and giving his female victims a hand-written note saying that unless they gave him money he would detonate a bomb.
"They did not know the bomb was not real and genuinely feared for their lives.
"Some of the women had to receive counselling and are still traumatised by what happened."
Jones's first attack was on September 21 last year, at the Ladbrokes betting shop in Commercial Street, Nelson, Caerphilly, from which he made off with around £400 in cash.
Four days later, Jones struck again at the Thomas Cook travel agents in Whitchurch, Cardiff, this time fleeing with £943 and a handful of Turkish lira.
By the following Friday, on September 28, he had gone westward to Haverfordwest where he targetedthe Thomson's travel agents in Riverside Quay.
After issuing another threat to kill the cashier if she sounded the alarm, Jones made off with £2,115 in cash.
Jones managed to lay low for more than a week until he resurfaced at a travel agents in Droitwich, on October 10.
This time Jones bizarrely demanded "euros only", while claiming to have a home-made bomb.
Mr Trigg said the defendant's fingerprints were found all over the hand-written note to the female cashier - who later had to receive counselling.
Five days later, on October 15, Jones struck again at the Thomson travel agents in Worle, Weston-Super-Mare.
Jones then unsuccessfully tried to carry out two further robberies - at the Betfair branch in Lydney, Gloucestershire, on October 22 and the following day at a Thomson travel agency in St Peter's Street, Hereford.
Then on October 25, Jones carried out another robbery at the Thomson branch in Newtown, Powys.
He was eventually arrested in Chippenham, Wiltshire, on October 30 when police noticed a man with a bag full of wires acting suspiciously.
On his arrest, Jones told officers: "I was just handing myself in anyway."
The court heard that while Jones carried out the robberies he was on licence from a three-year jail sentence issued in 2010.
Jones, who pleaded guilty to six counts of robbery and two of attempted robbery, wrote the Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees a letter saying he was "profoundly sorry" for his actions and the consequences they had caused for his victims.
Defending barrister David Rees said his client - who believed he was "invisible" during the bomb plots - had a longstanding gambling addiction as well as drink and drug problems.
Jailing Jones for seven and a half years, Judge Eleri Rees said: "You had been looking for soft targets and we have heard how all your victims were female members of staff.
"Although there was no physical harm to them, some of the women have detailed how they struggled to cope with the aftermath of the robberies."
Judge Rees said that, although Jones had been "unsophisticated" in his approach, there had been a degree of pre-planning.