Sunderland bank robber jailed for three years

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A BANK robber has been jailed for three years after targeting a customer as he queued to make a deposit.

The victim, who is in his 50s, was standing in line at Barclays, in Southwick, on April 25, when Lee Stephenson made a grab for his money bag.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the struggle spilled outside when the customer, who had been waiting to bank £940 in shop takings, refused to let go.

The pair crashed to the ground and Stephenson, 30, made a run for it, but was then tripped up by a brave passer-by who managed to snatch the cash bag back.

The customer suffered an injured hand and was left in shock after his ordeal.

Stephenson, of Carley Road, Southwick, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to robbery.

Judge David Wood told him: “It was obvious to you and to everyone there he was carrying a sum of money to pay into the bank.”

“You grabbed the bag, he resisted and was pulled to the floor. He injured his hand in the process which resulted in you pulling the bag from him and you made good your escape.

“You would have escaped were it not for the intervention of the member of the public.”

Judge Wood awarded the passer-by £500 for his bravery that day.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling described to the court how the incident happened.

She said: “They ended up coming out of the bank, the injured party was being dragged along the path.

“There was a small wall and the defendant fell over it. As he fell he dragged the complainant down with him and it caused him to let go of the bag.

“The defendant had the cash bag and ran off but a witness intervened who swept the defendant’s legs from under him and managed to retrieve the cash bag.”

When police viewed CCTV footage from the bank they recognised Stephenson and he was arrested.

Jamie Adams, defending, said Stephenson was drunk and had not pre-planned the robbery, which he feels “very ashamed” about.

Mr Adams said: “It was not a deliberate attempt to hurt him in any way.”

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