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'

AN extraordinary trial is going on at the High Court, of a bank robber up on charges of robbing a bank, though both sides agree he didn't rob a bank... but perhaps an extract from yesterday's proceedings will make things clearer.

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

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before