The sad case of the non-existent-bank robber
`We thought we heard music - but there shouldn't be anyone in a bank after 9pm except bank robbers'
Friday 03 December 1999
Counsel: You are, I believe, a bank robber by trade, Mr Hammersmith?
Defendant: That is a loaded term, sir. I prefer to say that I make hostile takeover bids for the contents of banks. It is quite fashionable at the moment.
Counsel: Quite so. And on 17 July last year, I believe you were making a hostile bid for the contents of the Great City Bank in London EC1.
Defendant: That's so. I cannot tell a lie.
Counsel: When you say you cannot tell a lie, do you mean generally, or just in answer to the last question?
Defendant: Just in answer to the last question.
Counsel: Good. Now, what were your preparations for the hostile bid, or robbery, as the rest of us would call it, of Great City Bank? Was it your plan to walk in, point a gun and ask for money?
Defendant: No, sir. I do not behave like some cowboy financier in the City. My plan was to dig a hole to the vaults, seal it up, and reopen the tunnel for access when needed. I had already masterminded the construction of the tunnel in 1993. Now it was just waiting for me.
Counsel: How did you get away with building tunnels round a bank?
Defendant: I gave people the impression it was test-diggings for the Jubilee Line. That's always an alibi for anything.
Counsel: I see. Now, we come to the night of 17 July last year. How did it go?
Defendant: At first it went fine. We reopened the tunnel, got down into the vaults, made our way to the main body of the bank, preparatory to entering and taking the money.
Counsel: What stopped you?
Defendant: Nothing, to start with. Then we got a bit worried; we thought we could hear music somewhere, which wasn't right, because there shouldn't be anyone in a bank after nine at night, except robbers, of course. But then we thought we must be imagining things. When we got to the last door we heard voices, so we thought maybe there must be some kind of meeting going on, and it was too late to go back by then, so we drew our guns, 'cos we were all armed, and rushed in, shouting: "Hands up, hands up, this is a bank raid!"
Counsel: And what scene greeted you?
Defendant: There were about 30 or 40 people sitting around at tables, drinking, smoking and laughing.
Counsel: This is quite unusual for a bank, is it not?
Defendant: Quite unknown, I would say.
Counsel: And what attention did they pay to you, as you waved your pistol?
Defendant: None at all.
Counsel: What was the explanation of this unusual sight, Mr Hammersmith?
Defendant: The explanation was that three years previously, unbeknownst to me, the Great City Bank had been bought up by a brewery and turned into a theme pub. It was still a bank building, but now contained licensed premises. We had raided a pub, full of drinkers.
Counsel: And instead of the millions you had hoped for, what did you in fact get?
Defendant: We all had a pint each and then scarpered.
Judge: Just a moment, just a moment!
Counsel: Yes, my Lord?
Judge: Do you mean to say Mr Hammersmith didn't take any money at all?
Counsel: That is so, my Lord.
Judge: Then he didn't commit a crime!
Counsel: With respect, my Lord, it is the Crown's submission that if you believe you have broken and entered a bank, then you are guilty of breaking and entering a bank, even if the place turns out not to be a bank.
Judge: Couldn't you charge him with breaking and entering a pub?
Counsel: No, my Lord. It is not a crime. Not during opening hours, anyway. That is why we have tried to get him for entering a bank.
Judge: But it wasn't a bank!
Counsel: But it had been once.
Judge: But it wasn't now!
Counsel: But he didn't know that. In any case, by his own admission, when he first broke and entered the premises six years ago, it had been a bank!
Judge: But he hadn't been caught!
Counsel: No. But we've got him now. Judge: I'm not so sure about that. I shall have to think about it. Case adjourned!
The case continues
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Technology company Alibaba posts job advert asking for 'stunning' women with qualities of adult film actress Sora Aoi
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Jorge Luis Borges fan brings his infinite library to life online
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils