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Leanne Chalmers made getaway on bus after bungled bank raid in Southampton
SHE looks like any other customer waiting to be served in a busy building society in Southampton.
But moments later Leanne Chalmers, pictured, thrust a note demanding money over the counter, telling a shocked cashier: “This is a robbery. I have got a gun.”
However, the 27-year-old’s bid to rob the Halifax in Bitterne precinct was doomed to failure, a court heard.
Cashier Annette Skinner took “the appropriate action” and pressed the silent alarm at her till before the security shutter went up.
Chalmers, who was unarmed, fled the shop and escaped by boarding a bus – with the whole incident captured by close circuit television cameras.
Later the same day, July 27 this year, she was arrested at her home in Blendworth Lane, Thornhill.
She later told detectives of her sympathy for the cashier. “I am sorry for that lady. I was so relieved when the shutter went up.”
Southampton Crown Court heard there were a number of customers with children in the shop at the time. They were shocked by the raid and Ms Skinner was shaken.
Chalmers has now begun a ten-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to attempted robbery.
The city crown court however accepted that Chalmers, who has had mental health issues, had been put been under pressure from a man to carry out the raid. However, that did not amount to duress.
Prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood confirmed a man had been detained but not been charged because of insufficient evidence.
In mitigation, Richard Martin referred to a statement the cashier made to the police that she got the impression that Chalmers would not have hurt anyone.
“What she did was extremely foolish,” said Mr Martin. “There was a genuine threat from the man. She didn’t cope with it well and should have reported it to the police.
“When she is released from prison, she plans to go to Scotland where he father lives and will try to put this matter behind her.”
Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Barnett accepted she had been under the influence of the man who had escaped justice but that was no excuse for what she did.
“You went along with it,” he added.
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