Bank raider jailed for four years

A MAN who walked into a bank at the end of his street and threatened to detonate a bomb unless the cashier handed over money has been jailed for four years.

A MAN who walked into a bank at the end of his street and threatened to detonate a bomb unless the cashier handed over money has been jailed for four years.

Steven Matthews walked into the Brightlingsea branch of Lloyds TSB in Victoria Place, gave a note to a female clerk and demanded she read it.

It said he was carrying a bomb and it would be detonated if the woman did not hand over the money.

Matthews, 31, of Station Road in the town, then said, “I mean it” before he was given a handful of notes on September 9, Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday.

Prosecuting, Grant Benjamin, said the clerk had been shocked and scared but managed to seek advice from a colleague who told her to hand over notes of smaller denomination.

He said Matthews was given just £135 and left, but in the early hours of the next morning he called 999 and confessed to the robbery, giving police his name and address.

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Mitigating, Matthew Gowen, said his client told officers he had been wearing a sock on his hand to prevent fingerprints on the cash.

Mr Gowen said Matthews had celebrated his birthday in the days leading up to the robbery and had drunk large quantities of alcohol and taken his entire supply of anti-psychosis drugs.

He added Matthews had been in a “confused state” and police found a number of “practice” notes at his home where he had struggled to write his threats down coherently.

Matthews later helped officers to trace the clothes he had thrown away after the robbery.

He said Matthews had suffered from serious mental illness and had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia.

The court heard Matthews, who pleaded guilty to the robbery earlier this week, had been jailed previously for a very similar offence.

Jailing Matthews for four years, Judge Charles Gratwicke said it had been an extremely serious offence.

He said: “These courts have said that those who work in banks and building societies are entitled to expect that they can carry out their daily tasks without being threatened in the way you threatened this lady.

“I, of course, have to consider the public at large and this court is concerned that this is the second such offence committed by you.

“I do bear in mind your plea of guilt, I do bear in mind that within a very short period of time you were in touch with the police, admitting to them what you had done.”

Judge Gratwicke also sentenced Matthews to an extended license period of three years after he is released.

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