A BALACLAVA-clad robber with a machete has been jailed after he carried out a series of armed raids in a North Yorkshire town.

Skyler Zienlinski, 36, terrified staff in two bookmakers and a convenience store before he was arrested near a children’s play area, York Crown Court heard.

Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said Zienlinski showed staff at a Betfred branch a machete and was wearing a balaclava as he told a staff  member “get the money, empty the till” at 10.45am on New Year’s Day.

The bookmaker’s employee “had no doubt he would be caused harm unless he complied,” said Mr Sharp. The employee handed over £90 in £10 notes and Zienlinski “calmly and slowly walked out of the shop”.

He hung around the area for about an hour as he got rid of the machete and the jacket he had been wearing.

“(The employee) was left shaken, alarmed and distressed,” said Mr Sharp. But he had immediately pressed a panic button alerting police to the robbery and an officer found and arrested Zienlinski near a play area.

Zienlinski told officers he “wanted police to shoot him”, said Mr Sharp. He also apologised for upsetting the bookmaker’s staff saying he “knew how it feels”.

He had smoked crack cocaine and had a bottle of wine the morning of the raid.

Zienlinski was on bail for carrying out an identical raid on a second Betfred branch on September 1 with an eight-inch serrated knife when he got away with £250 and a robbery on a McColls store when he claimed he had a weapon in a carrier bag and the shop assistant he confronted was so terrified she locked herself in a back room while he took £1,022 in cash, alcohol and tobacco.

He was also on a suspended prison sentence for attempted burglary of a jewellers when he had tried to steal a £8,450 Rolex watch and two thefts, also committed in September.

Zienlinski, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to robbery and carrying a knife in public, both at the Cambridge Road branch of Betfred in Harrogate on January 1, and asked for the robbery of the Betfred branch of Kings Road, Harrogate, on September 1 and burglary of the McColls store on September 2 to be taken into consideration.

He was jailed for six years. He had already been ordered to serve the suspended sentence as part of a six-month sentence imposed earlier this month when he was also sentenced for shoplifting at a petrol station and a TK Maxx shop. Zienlinski has more than 30 previous convictions.

For him, Abi Whelan said he had struggled with his mental health “for a number of years” and had been “self-medicating” with drugs and alcohol which led to him committing crimes.

On New Year's Day "he didn't want to be here any more, but he didn't really want to kill himself," said Ms Whelan. He was remorseful.

He planned to use his time in prison addressing his problems. He had been drug-free for some years while living away from Harrogate but had then returned and started taking drugs again.