Bank raider was in the depths of recession

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The Independent Online
BRINLEY Thomas was a small businessman badly affected by the recession who had been refused a pounds 5,000 overdraft by his bank. But that did not excuse what was to follow, Judge Anthony Durrant told him at Reading Crown Court.

When the National Westminster Bank refused to increase his overdraft, Thomas decided to raid the bank. Taking his son's toy pistol, he drove to the NatWest branch in Pangbourne, Berkshire.

He had had a sleepless night, and was desperate, the court was told. However, the hold-up was foiled before it had started: the assistant manager noticed the gun had a stopper in the end, realised it was a fake, and tackled him to the floor.

After his arrest, Thomas's business collapsed, his wife found out he had been having an affair with his business partner and left him, he was made bankrupt, lost his house, and had a nervous breakdown. On top of that, he was yesterday jailed for four years after admitting attempted robbery with an imitation gun.

Thomas, 49, of Cowley, Oxfordshire, had run a struggling printing promotions company called Petra Promotions for 12 years. Hit by the recession, Thomas re- mortgaged his house for pounds 70,000, had a personal overdraft of pounds 10,300, and a company overdraft of pounds 22,000.

John Riley, for the defence, said that Thomas did not take home wages. 'All the money he had went into the business. He also had emotional strain. He was having an affair with his business partner, which had gone on for eight years. However, he stayed with his wife for the sake of their children.'

Sentencing Thomas, Judge Durrant said: 'This was a premeditated offence, perhaps an act of desperation due to the financial position of your business and the refusal of your bank to give a further overdraft.'

Many businessmen faced difficulties, but it did not entitle them to break the law, he said.