Last October, Julie Hutchinson, 29, of Allenton, Derbyshire, walked into a local branch of Lloyds Bank and handed the cashier a note which read: 'I want pounds 2,000 in twenties and tens. I have a gun.' Although unarmed, she escaped with pounds 1,479, which she paid to bailiffs just hours later.
James McNamara, for the prosecution, said that the bailiffs became suspicious at the large cash payment and contacted police. Hutchinson, who admitted the robbery, was arrested the next day after the notes had been traced.
Ian Strongman, for the defence, said that the couple had moved to their house five years ago, but Hutchinson had to give up her job as an assistant manageress of a bakery after the birth of her second child. 'With less money coming into the home, the debts mounted and Hutchinson began to hide the truth of her financial plight from her husband.'
Hutchinson turned to a loan company after the mortgage lenders threatened to repossess the house in August 1991, but the exorbitant interest rates charged only worsened the situation.
'Like any mother she would do anything for her family. In her mind she had no option but to find the money by dishonest means,' Mr Strongman said.
Judge James Orrell said he was satisfied that Hutchinson's was 'a tragic case and at the time of the bank robbery she had not been thinking straight'. Although the sentence was 'exceptionally lenient', he felt sure that the chances of her reoffending were slight, he added.