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Former Wolves starlet jailed

Dudley | News | Published:

A former Wolves player who carried out a terrifying robbery after being laid off when the club was promoted to the Premier League was this afternoon locked up for nearly three years.

A former Wolves player who carried out a terrifying robbery after being laid off when the club was promoted to the Premier League was this afternoon locked up for nearly three years.

Striker Liam Hughes "had the world at his feet" until Wolves were promoted to the Premier League last year and he and four other youth team players' contracts were ended, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The 21-year-old "struggled to cope with the rejection" and turned to crime, it was said.

He and accomplice Ricky Mills, aged 22, claimed to have a gun when they raided Holloway Stores in Lower Gornal.

The pair were caught on CCTV threatening the shopkeeper before fleeing with a till containing £1,200.

Hughes, who has also played for Stafford Rangers, was today locked up for 32 months and Mills - who bit the store owner during the robbery on February 13 - was jailed for five years.

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Walsh told Hughes: "It is clear you have considerable potential but you played a clear part in this offence. You stayed at the front door, no doubt acting as look-out."

Miss Alka Brigue, prosecuting, said the two former school friends went into the store twice and asked for cigarettes on loan before the robbery.

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Hughes guarded the front door while Mills lunged at the till. When the shopkeeper locked it and put the key in his pocket Mills was heard to say: 'Give me the money out of the till, I've got a gun.'

Miss Brigue said Hughes then repeated the threat and shouted 'He has got a gun, he had, he pulled it out on me earlier on the street.'

Mills bit the shop owners finger, drawing blood, before jumping over the counter, grabbing the till and running off. Hughes stayed in the shop talking to customers before leaving shortly before police arrived.

Hughes, of Kenilworth Crescent, Parkfields, and Mills, of Eagle Place, Dudley, were both arrested shortly after.

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Hughes was taken on as a scholarship academy player by Wolves in July 2005, before signing a professional contract in 2007 which was ended in February. He had played for Wolves youth team from the age of 10.

Mr Gurdeep Garcha, defending, said Hughes had been looking forward to a career as a professional footballer and struggled to cope when he was axed. He has since secured a job as a window salesman.

In 2008, Hughes was praised for his enthusiasm by the then Stafford Rangers manager Steve Bull who signed him.He made three appearances for Rangers and also played in around 10 matches for Pensnett United in the 08/09 season.

Hughes played a number of games for Wolves reserves, including against Wrexham and Walsall. He was top scorer for two years as he helped the Wolves Academy side triumph in Holland.

Hughes and Mills, who was branded the "lead offender," both admitted robbery.

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