A HAPLESS robber who turned to the internet for tips on raiding a bank even apologised to the cashier before fleeing with a bundle of notes.
However, his getaway didn’t start well when the automatic door failed to open and Jordan Daniel Heslin was forced to return to the counter to sheepishly ask: “Can one of you let us out?”.
Earlier, the debt-ridden 22-year-old – who wanted to start a new life - was seen outside pacing up and down several times, a court heard.
He then entered with his hood pulled up and a scarf partially covering his face before handing a note to a female cashier.
It read: “I have a gun. Stay calm, I don’t want to hurt anyone. I need £6,000. Don’t put it in a bag. I’ll be out in a hurry. Sorry”.
Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said: “Panicked and shaken, she didn’t know what to do next and shouted to a branch manager.
“She, in turn, looked at the note and glanced at the defendant, who said: ‘I’m sorry, I’m desperate'.”
The manager took some £10 and £20 notes from a drawer and showed them to Heslin, who told her: “That’ll do.”
When the door of the Lloyds bank were opened, he left with £2,140. But the robbery was so low key other customers were unaware it had taken place.
However, closed-circuit footage was circulated which led to Heslin being quickly identified – Durham Crown Court heard his own grandmother recognised him.
Miss Lamballe said jobless Heslin had visited a library to seek online information about bank robbery before walking into the nearby Front Street bank in Stanley County Durham, on April 23 shortly before 2pm.
“He fully admitted the offence and told police that having spent the previous morning in a JobCentre, he felt all he needed to make something of his life was some money, which is when he decided to rob a bank.
“He researched it at the library and felt he needed £6,000 to pay off his debts, which would leave some money for his children and £1,000 to start his new life.
“He then said he summoned up the courage to enter and approached the cashier.”
He told police he realised the fear he caused to the bank staff and felt sorry for them.
Heslin said he spent some of the money drinking and gambling before being arrested.
Police were quickly at the scene and although a man was arrested shortly afterwards, he was released after offering an alibi.
Heslin, of Edward Street, New Kyo, near Stanley, was arrested at a friend’s flat in Gateshead early next day, still with £1,703. He admitted a charge of robbery.
The court heard he had some previous offences on his record but nothing of such significance.
Peter Walsh, mitigating, told the court: “It was clear he was almost apologising to the bank staff involved, telling them: ‘I’m sorry’, and, ‘I’m desperate’.
“Even the manager who was present said she felt: ‘What a stupid lad. What have you done?’
“Her colleague said she did not want to think badly of him because of the way he came in.
“This illustrated the unique nature of how these offences were committed.
“There was an element of pre-planning, but that was looking up on Google how to do it.
“Given the camera images it was only a matter of time before he was traced. Even his own grandmother recognised him.
“When police found him he assisted an officer in retrieving the money.”
Mr Walsh added that Heslin was “sick of being in debt” and having previously worked full-time was only on a zero-hours contract at the time of the robbery.
Jailing him for two years, Judge Neil Clark told Heslin: “You walked into that bank and committed what appears to have been a somewhat apologetic robbery.
“You found yourself in dire financial straits – you’ve been frank about that from the outset.
“But, what you chose to do was completely wrong.
“You were naive in the way you carried it out, but you were acting irrationally.
“Those in the bank did not know if there was a gun present or not.
“Although terrified, it’s clear neither probably thought you had a gun, but they couldn’t take the risk.”
Judge Clark added that it was an “unusual case” of robbery which did not fit easily into accepted sentencing guidelines.