A PROLIFIC criminal who threatened terrified post office staff with a fake firearm during an armed robbery in Maryport has been jailed for 18 years.
Drug addict Mark John Mercer, 47, was locked up at Carlisle Crown Court today (FRI) for a string of shocking and mean offences committed around West Cumbria late last year and in early 2016.
On 25th January Mercer brandished an imitation revolver as he demanded cash from three women working at the family-run Maryport Post Office. Despite the robber warning “I will shoot”, the trio bravely stopped him from forcing his way behind the counter and one of the plucky females kicked him on the leg.
Mercer fled with around £1,000 from two tills, but was apprehended by armed police in Carlisle’s Lanes shopping centre the next day.
Victims later spoke of the profound effect his crimes had on them. One of the post office staff members was described as being left “traumatised”.
Mercer admitted being responsible for that robbery and also the street mugging of a 20-year-old woman in Whitehaven on 9th January.
Having also pleaded guilty to a raft of dishonesty offences – some involving elderly victims – and two firearms charges, he was handed the lengthy jail sentence by Judge Peter Davies.
The court heard Mercer, whose address was given as Toll Bar Houses, Distington, also had a number of previous robberies on his record.
He must serve at least two-thirds of his prison term before he is eligible for release, and was made subject to a five-year extended licence period.
Judge Davies told him: “When you are under the influence of drugs you are dangerous, Mr Mercer.”
Detective Constable Hayley Carson said: “We are pleased that justice has been served and that Mercer is going to prison.
“Mercer was a bully and a thug who targeted lone women to steal from. His actions at the post office were shocking as he held a held a revolver towards an elderly woman who bravely stood up to him. Unfortunately she has since died but I would like to praise her for the bravery she had shown that day. She continued that bravery by helping with our investigation and this praise is also warranted to Mercer’s other victims who helped put this man behind bars.
“Mercer was a danger to society and west Cumbria is a safer place for his imprisonment.”