A MASKED armed robber terrified workers during a trio of shop raids where he grabbed cash to feed his drink and drug problem.

Soloman Loveridge also burgled a house and rammed a police car when officers attempted to arrest him during a month-long crime spree.

Loveridge and another man went into the Tesco Express store in St Christopher Road, Colchester – he had a knife while his accomplice was carrying a hammer.

The 43-year-old jumped on the counter and demanded cash from the till, eventually making off with £2,500.

A week later he raided a house in Harwich Road, Colchester, while the occupants were out grabbing jewellery, a mobile phone and a coin collection.

Most of the goods were recovered.

Loveridge next targeted Martin’s Newsagents in Fivefields Court, Colchester, where he again stole cash after entering the store before another robbery at the Co-op in Earls Colne High Street.

This time he had a hammer, again jumped on the counter, and made off with £200.

Officers went to arrest Loveridge the day after the Co-op incident in St John’s Road, Colchester, after spotting a Volvo he was linked to, however, he reversed into the patrol car leaving an officer with whiplash-type injuries.

Loveridge, of no fixed address, admitted three robberies, burglary and dangerous driving. All the offences were in November 2017.

He has been in custody since last year having admitted another burglary in Harwich Road, Colchester, where he was jailed for more than two years.

Judge Charles Gratwicke handed down a fresh sentence of ten years and nine months at Chelmsford Crown Court.

“It must have been a terrifying experience for those unfortunate members of staff working in those shops having to face you and others brandishing weapons,” he said.

Richard Potts, mitigating said Loveridge knew he had to change.

“Approximate to the time of the offending he lost family members,” he said.

“He increased his use of drugs and alcohol in order to effectively self-medicate and ease that depression. He was in a very sorry place.

“This cannot carry on and he knows he has to make a change.”

“That change has seen him face up to his drink and drug problem and taking courses while inside prison.

“He has also completed one on victim awareness.”