PERSONAL references for an armed robber jailed for more than six years came from the Lord Mayor of Oxford and two city councillors.

But Mohammed Abbasi and Mohammed Altaf-Khan have refused to say what their references said and Mark Lygo said he “doesn’t remember” giving it.

Abdullah Mohammed, 19, and fellow robber Shumon Hassan, 19, were sentenced to six years and three months in prison at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday.

They admitted robbing £6k from Stan James bookmakers in Headington on March 13 last year. They also admitted a charge of using an imitation gun during the raid.

But Judge Ian Pringle, sentencing them, pointed out that, as the gun was never recovered, it will never be known whether it was an imitation – as they claimed – or a real firearm. Hassan, of Humfrey Road, Headington, held the gun to the duty manager’s head while Mohammed, of no fixed address, shouted “shoot him”.

Judge Pringle said he had received character references for Mohammed, which spoke of his good qualities, from the three councillors. Lord Mayor Mohammed Abbasi’s office said he provided a verbal reference but Mr Abbasi failed to respond to emails and calls from the Oxford Mail, as did Mr Altaf-Khan.

Mr Lygo initially told the Oxford Mail he had not given a reference for Mohammed.

The Oxford Mail confirmed the reference with Judge Pringle, and Mr Lygo told us he “didn’t remember” whether he had given one or not.

He admitted he knew Mohammed because he lived nearby, but said: “I need to double-check to be certain I didn’t give that reference. I certainly don’t remember.”

Mr Lygo would not say whether he would be taking the issue up with the courts.

The robbers, both 18 at the time, were wearing hoodies and scarves covering their faces when they raided the bookies at 11.30am.

Hassan went straight to a customer playing a gambling machine and put the gun to his head, demanding money, but got nothing.

The duty manager, in an office behind a screened-off counter, pushed an alarm button then tried to close the door but was too late to stop Mr Hassan bursting in.

Hassan put the gun to his head, forcing him to kneel on the floor while Mohammed repeatedly shouted “shoot him”.

They took £6,000 from a safe.

Within 15 minutes the pair had caught a taxi to Oxford town centre.

They went to Pizza Hut where they spent an hour, then went shopping and spent nearly £2,000 in Cult Clothing and John Anthony, changing into the garments immediately and throwing their old clothes into bins. At about 4pm they caught a bus to London.

They were arrested within weeks and charged on May 16.

Prosecutor Miles Trigg said Hassan had ten previous offences on file, mostly possession of cannabis, while Mohammed had just a warning for a traffic offence.

Judge Pringle sentenced both to six years and three months for robbery, and two years and eight months concurrent for having an imitation firearm with intent.