AN armed robber who stole almost £100,000 to fund his gambling addiction was "glad" to have been stopped according to the police officer in charge of his case.

Over a two year period, Graham Farrell, 44, held up nine different banks and building societies, brandishing an imitation gun and ordering terrified staff to hand over cash. He researched the branches he was going to rob on the internet, preferring to rob banks without glass screens across the counters.

In total, Farrell, of Swanley, Kent stole £95,396 from branches across the south east, funding an uncontrollable gambling habit.

Detective Sergeant Mark O'Shaughnessy, of the Met's Flying Squad, said: "This was a desperate man, who was robbing banks as the only way to fund his gambling addiction.

"When he was caught, he admitted to all the other robberies, and said he was glad we had stopped him."

Farrell was caught on January 9 this year, after robbing the Harrow branch of Bradford and Bingley, in St Ann's Road.

He stormed into the bank with an imitation hand gun, and threatened staff until they handed over bags with thousands of pounds in cash.

But when he left, a security device detonated inside the bags of money, spraying red paint and smoke into the air, melting one of the bags and spilling money into the high street.

Covered in red paint, Farrell tried to scoop the cash off the ground, but was spotted by two passing Harrow Police officers, who chased after him and caught him.

Detective Sergeant O'Shaughnessy said: "Farrell would not have been in custody if it had not been for these two officers taking a risk to catch him.

"They jumped on him, and he put up a bit of a fight, and they were not aware they were dealing with an armed man."

Farrell was jailed for 12 years at Harrow Crown Court on Friday, April 25, after pleading guilty to all nine counts of robbery and nine counts of possessing an imitation firearm.

He asked for another three robberies to be taken into consideration.

Detective Sergeant O'Shaughnessy said: "This man conducted a reign of terror targeting numerous banks and building societies.

"His sentence reflects the gravity of this offence and should act as a deterrent to others engaging in armed robbery."