An 'armed' robber who stole thousands from banks and attemptedd to rob a post office has been jailed.

Steven Ifield, 52, of Park Lane, Hornchurch, targeted two banks and a post office in Gants Hill and Wanstead between October 7 and November 7, 2019.

In two of these incidents, he brought out a fake gun which appeared real enough to staff to intimidate them, and in the third theft he used a folded walking stick covered in a carrier bag which he held as if he was carrying a shotgun.

At the banks, Ifield managed to make off with £3,230 from one raid and £1,360 from the other.

But when he tried to rob the post office, staff refused to open the till and told him it was on a time lock.

Steven Ifield robbing a bank in Redbridge (Photo: Met Police)

Steven Ifield robbing a bank in Redbridge (Photo: Met Police)

Police later identified Ifield after an investigation.

Following a two-week trial in January, he was found guilty of two counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery and three counts of possession of an imitation firearm.

He appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court last Friday (April 30) and was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment.

PC Stefen Rule, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “Ifield has a long and serious offending history, including nine previous armed robberies. Each one will have caused a huge amount of distress to the innocent members of staff who were targeted.

"I am pleased that he will no longer be able to pose a threat to the public. I hope that these convictions and the length of the sentence imposed by the court will be of some comfort to the victims and help alleviate the trauma they have experienced.”