A GAMBLING addict gave a counter clerk at a Hampshire bank a few seconds to hand over cash or he would blow up the premises with explosives he was carrying in his rucksack, a judge heard.

But when the teller refused and said he had pressed the alarm, the would-be robber walked out and immediately phoned the police to say what he had done.

The extraordinary drama happened shortly before 5pm on May 17 when jobless Bryan Dimmick, having blown his money at a bookmakers and then frittered away the last few pounds in a bar, entered the NatWest bank in the High Street, Southampton.

Counter clerk Ryan Noyce thought nothing untoward as the 42-year-old at first acted normally but then suddenly demanded: “Give me the money” as he pointed to an adjacent cash box.

Prosecutor Jennie Rickman said Mr Noyce initially thought he was joking and started giggling but then Dimmick threatened him, “I’ve got explosives in my bag,” indicating a rucksack slung over his shoulder.

Dimmick then added: “You’ve got 10 seconds or I’ll blow the bank up.”

The clerk replied: “No, I’ve pressed my alarm.”

He repeated his demand but again the clerk again said ‘no.’ Dimmick then walked out of the premises and immediately rang the police, who arrested him.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Mr Noyce’s colleague, Sharon Cordell, who was sitting next to him, also initially thought he was joking but then started getting nervous and worried, and the incident had affected her sleep.

Bomb threat However, she thought the hold-up wasn’t premeditated and he was desperate.

On arrest, he told police he had acted in “a moment of madness.” He had a gambling habit and he had just lost his money.

Dimmick, of Sycamore Road, Southampton, admitted attempted robbery and making a bomb threat. He was jailed for 18 months after Judge Keith Cutler activated three months of a four-month suspended sentence.

In mitigation, Ryan Seneviratne said Dimmick had just sold a Rover for £210 and was going to use the cash to buy another car. But he put some of the cash into his brother’s account over a debt and then walked into a bookmakers.

“The rest is, as they say, is history.”

At first he won but then lost and started chasing his losses.

With his last cash he went into a pub and had five or six pints.

He then went into the NatWest bank and asked about his brother’s account but they understandably wouldn’t give him details.

“Then something inside him snapped,” said Mr Seneviratne.

When he saw the money, he instantly reacted and made the bomb threat. Afterwards he immediately rang the police, and his call arrived before that of the bank staff.

“He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He knew what he had done and wanted to stand up and be counted. He knows he must get a grip on his gambling and must accept what help is on offer. He knows his partner won’t stand by him unless he does.”

Passing sentence, the judge praised the two employees as being “very brave” and had acted calmly.

He told Dimmick: “If everyone who had money problems took action like you, there would be complete mayhem.”