A PROLIFIC armed robber who terrorised bookmakers across north London was sentenced to 10 years in jail last week after cops used MySpace to catch him.

Gang member Yannis Young stormed a dozen bookies in a two year crime spree, where he threatened terrified staff with an imitation hand gun, which was sometimes wrapped in a cloth or a sock.

The 24-year-old, who racked up more than £11,500 in cash from the raids, was finally caught after officers spotted Young wearing the same distinctive clothing in CCTV footage and on his MySpace page.

He also left DNA and fingerprints at a number of the robberies and left behind a hammer and a sock filled with cardboard and paper he had brandished at staff to look like a gun.

Armed police raided his Minet Avenue home in Harlesden on September 30 last year, the day after he carried out two robberies in the space of 20 minutes in Harrow, before seizing an imitation firearm, the distinctive clothes he wore to carry out the raids, and cash.

One of the £10 notes found at his house had been stained with blue dye and could be traced back to one of the targeted bookies.

During sentencing at Harrow Crown Court on Monday it emerged that Young, who was known to gang members as 'Chessman' stormed branches of Corals, William Hill and Ladbrokes just before closing in Brent, Harrow, Hillindon and Ealing telling staff he would "blow their heads off" if they didn't empty cash from tills and safes and put them in pillow cases and carrier bags.

He would often wear a scarf over his face or a hood to cover his features while another member of the gang would stand guard at the door while a third robber would be waiting in a getaway car.

The court heard how Young had nine previous convictions for 18 offences, which began when he was just 14, including street robberies and Nina Crinnion, prosecuting, said he was a member of the Thug Family – a north west London gang which “concerns themselves in offences of murder, firearms, robberies, and drugs supply.”

Judge Nic Madge told the robber: "In many ways, it makes no real difference whether a real gun or whether a plausible imitation gun was used.

“To the customers and staff it makes no difference. The robberies were accompanied by verbal threats and must have been absolutely terrifying for the staff and customers.

"The courts will do anything it can to protect law abiding members of staff at bookmakers."

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Hennigan, from Finchley Flying Squad – the team that brought Young to justice, added: “To have a gun put to your head is a frightening experience in anyone's book.

“It is good in this case that the people did not have to come to court to relive the experience they went through and that Young is behind bars where he can't carry out this terrifying robberies any more.”

Young pleaded guilty, six weeks before he was set to stand trial, to one count of conspiracy to rob and one of possession of a firearm.

Young's two-year robbery spree:

- July 29, 2007, William Hill in Cricklewood Lane, Cricklewood. £900 stolen.

- October 1, 2007, Ladbrokes in Oxgate Court Parade, Cricklewood. £3,137 stolen.

- October 5, 2007, Ladbrokes in Craven Park, Harlesden. £712 stolen.

- January 22, 2008, William Hill in Station Road, Harlesden. £430 stolen.

- October 9, 2008, William Hill in Royal Parade, Ealing. £275 stolen.

- April 27, 2009, William Hill in College Road, Harlesden. £2150 stolen.

- September 15, 2009, William Hill in Chamberlayne Road, Harlesden. £1997 stolen.

- September 21, 2009, Corals in Swakeleys, Ickenham. £0 stolen.

- September 21, 2009, Corals in West End Road, Eastcote. £500 stolen.

- September 21, 2009, William Hill in Old Oak Common Lane, East Acton. £350 stolen.

- September 29, 2009, Bloxhams in Mollison Way, Edgware. £687 stolen.

- September 29, 2009, Corals in Honeypot Lane, Stanmore. £500 stolen.