A ROBBER has been jailed for 24 years after forcing a couple at knifepoint to drive him to a cash machine while their children slept upstairs.

Appearing last Friday for sentence at Manchester Crown Court, Mark Kenneth Blackley, 40, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to a number of offences which took place in July.

Blackley had pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery, two of kidnapping, three of possession of a bladed article, attempted robbery, aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.

The court heard that Blackley forced his way into a property in January shortly after 10pm, in The Down’s, Altrincham, brandishing a 6-inch kitchen knife and demanded cash and bank cards from a couple inside.

While their children slept upstairs, the couple were forced to drive to a cash point.

However, after arriving at the ATM, Blackley realised he had lost the bank cards handed over to him only minutes earlier at the couple’s home.

Blackley then forced the couple to drive him back to the property, where he demanded they search for more bank cards, threatening to "stab them in the heart" with a second knife if they didn’t comply.

Blackley then noticed the man’s company credit card. After being informed that cash couldn’t be withdrawn on it, Blackley demanded the couple get back in the car and drive him to a supermarket in Manor Road, Altrincham, so he could buy items.

Once at the supermarket, the couple managed to escape. Blackley chased the man but was unable to catch him.

Blackley then forced his way into a second property, locking the door behind him.

He threatened the occupants with a knife, demanded that they pour him an alcoholic drink and stole cash and keys to a Peugeot 208, before taking the car.

Police pursued the vehicle, which Blackley abandoned at the roundabout in Princess Parkway and Mancunian Way.

He attempted to escape on foot by climbing over a fence, before a pursuing officer deployed a Taser and detained him.

Detective Constable Helen Bagnall, of GMP’s Trafford Division, said: “Blackley is a dangerous, selfish offender.

“He showed no regard for his victims, whom he subjected to a sustained, traumatic experience.

“Not only did he subject two separate families to terrifying ordeals, he even forced parents from their home, leaving children alone upstairs.

“Blackley’s menace was matched by the bravery of pursuing police officers, who tackled a dangerous offender whom they knew to be armed with knives.

“We are indebted to their courage, and that of Blackley’s victims, whose testimony has helped put a dangerous offender behind bars.”