|Armed robber sentenced - Wigan
An armed robber has been jailed indefinitely for dragging a member of staff at a busy Wigan bank into the back office at gunpoint, before making off with cash.
When Colin Smith treated himself to a new car with some of the takings later that day, a sales person joked and asked him if he had just robbed a bank.
Smith (born 17/11/80) of HMP Risley, pleaded guilty to robbery at an earlier hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
Today, Friday 11 June 2010 Smith was sentenced to a indeterminate sentence for public protection. He must serve a minimum of six years before being considered eligible for parole.
At about 11.10am on Friday 2 May 2008, Smith and another man burst into Lloyds TSB on Omrskirk Road in Pemberton, which was full of customers at the time.
While his accomplice stood in the middle of the bank and held a large knife aloft, telling everyone to get to the floor, Smith put a handgun to the head of a member of staff at the enquiry counter and dragged her to the floor.
The woman was screaming for help, but Smith dragged her across the bank while she was on the floor and forced her to open the back office.
He then made threats to another member of staff. The offender with the knife also came into the back and the pair put cash into a rucksack.
They then ran outside the bank and got into a Renault Megane parked around the corner with the engine on.
In a frantic getaway, the car sped across a busy Ormskirk Road regardless of the crossing traffic.
When officers got to the bank, they recovered a small bladed object wrapped in cloth from the back office. Inquiries established that this fell off the butt of the knife.
It was taken away for forensic analysis but no DNA or fingerprints were found.
Later that day, Smith treated himself to a shopping spree, and spent nearly £7000 on a Volkswagen Golf. The sales assistant later told officers that she found him to be nervous, and was sceptical that he was willing to offer cash straight away, and not barter for a lower price.
She then joked, asking him if he robbed a bank, to which Smith laughed.
On 31 July 2008, the police received a report that Colin Smiths flat on Brentwood Road in Leigh had been broken into. When the officers got there, Smith was inside and a significant amount of cash was found.
The police became suspicious, seized the cash and arrested Smith. After his flat was searched, a pair of gloves was examined.
Traces of black paint were found on the gloves. Tape from the cloth wrapping of the small bladed object recovered from the bank was sprayed with the exactly same paint. DNA and fingerprint analysis of the gloves proved they belonged to Smith.
Smiths bank records showed that he had withdrawn cash from the Lloyds TSB bank in Pemberton once before, in March 2008. CCTV taken from his visit showed he was having a good look around and familiarising himself with the layout.
Detective Constable Barrie Murphy said: "This was a horrendous experience for the staff and customers in the bank, who were simply going about their business on a busy Friday morning, when two masked men left them terribly shaken.
"Smith planned the robbery as carefully as he could, stealing a substantial amount of cash, and were it not for a pair of gloves found in his flat almost four months later, it may not have been solved.
"He worked hard to evade the police but persistent and joint working helped us to get this result, and I hope it can reassure the people of Pemberton."
Between April 2009 and March 2010, there were 1,052 fewer victims of robbery in Greater Manchester compared to the previous year; a drop of 14.9 per cent.