AN ARMED robber who raided a city betting shop was caught after his swag bag snagged on a phone box and spilt its contents.

Robert Kelly, who claimed he was kidnapped and forced to commit the crime, thrust an imitation revolver at staff at Betfred in London Road, Headington, before demanding they put £1 coins in a bin bag.

As the 25-year-old ran away from the shop, the plastic sack caught on a phone box and ripped open, sending the money scattering.

Kelly, of Green Road, Headington, was jailed for five years at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday after admitting robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent.

Roger Coventry, prosecuting, said Kelly and another man went into the bookmaker’s just after 8pm on February 15 this year.

He said: “One stood by the door and was clearly armed, and the second approached staff.

“His face was masked, he had what is described as a silver long-barrelled revolver and was saying words to the effect of ‘give me the money’.”

Mr Coventry said the man, who he said was Kelly, “banged on the counter and leapt on the counter” before taking about £150 in a bag.

He added: “The bag got snagged on a nearby phone box. It is from that the forensic evidence is linked.”

A second man, 25-year-old Aaron Gardner, of no fixed address, had also been charged with the robbery, but the case against him was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Charles Falk, defending Kelly, who has 22 previous convictions, said his client was kidnapped by a gang and pressured into the offence.

He said: “The reason he got involved with these people was he had been growing weed (for them) on a small-scale basis.”

Mr Falk said Kelly’s girlfriend destroyed the cannabis, angering the gang.

He added: “(Kelly was) taken to a shed in Green Road and once inside he was punched and kicked, tied with cable ties and made to kneel, and left in the shed for a day.”

After temporarily freeing himself he was then tied up again and left for another day, Mr Falk said.

He added: “He was ordered to commit this offence in this betting shop. He was not to profit. Anything he received was to be given to these men.”

Mr Falk, who said his client did not use duress as a formal excuse for the crime due to his growing of the cannabis, said police were continuing to investigate the alleged kidnap.

Judge Anthony King called the robbery an “extremely serious offence”.