AN armed bank robber who left customers and staff fearing for their lives when he pointed a gun at them has been jailed for nine years.

Gavin Wilson robbed Barclays Bank of more than £15,000 after walking in wearing a balaclava, camouflage clothes and carrying an imitation handgun.

The 42-year-old ordered staff to put the money a bag he had brought with him before making his getaway from the bank in Hartlepool just after 10am on Friday, June 12.

Last month, Wilson was given four weeks to tell police where he has stashed the stolen money or face the possibility of a longer prison sentence.

Martin Scarborough, Wilson's counsel, said an anonymous person had dropped off more than £6,000 in cash at his office, which he handed over to police.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Wilson had racked up gambling debts before carrying out the robbery.

The Northern Echo: Gavin WilsonGavin Wilson

The court heard how Wilson enlisted an innocent neighbour, who was also initially charged with the robbery, to give him a lift to the bank.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, had previously told the court how Wilson had carried out the pre-planned raid.

He said: "It’s quite plain that he was in fact pointing the gun at people’s heads as he marched around the bank giving orders to people.”"

Wilson, of Pinero Road, Hartlepool, admitted robbery, possessing an imitation firearm and possessing a small amount of cocaine.

Judge Howard Crowson said: “It is unsurprising that your victims treated that (gun) as a lethal weapon, and it’s clear that those in the bank feared they may be shot.

"Indeed that was your intention. You left customers and bank staff terrified and shaken.”

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Jodi Mallon from Hartlepool CID, said: “Gavin Wilson planned and carried out an armed robbery at Barclays Bank in Hartlepool in June this year. He held a gun to a number of people within the bank whilst demanding cash.

"This was a terrifying incident for the victims and something that I would imagine will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“Wilson made off with a substantial amount of cash but was later arrested and charged, and I am pleased that he has now been brought to justice for his crimes."