Building society raider jailed

William Donaldson
William Donaldson

A BUNGLING bank raider who claimed he had a bomb before he fled empty-handed has been jailed.

William Donaldson, 39, a failed burglar who had served 21 years in prison, was foiled by two cashiers at the Darlington Building Society in Hartlepool.

The two bank workers pressed the alarm button when he walked up to the counter at 10am on Saturday, July 7, wearing a hoodie and a scarf over his face, Teesside Crown Court was told.

prosecuting, Sam Faulks said he was wide-eyed and he appeared to be under the influence of drink or drugs.

Donaldson slapped down a black carrier bag and he kept repeating: “Put the money in the bag, I’m not joking, I’ve got a bomb.”

Mr Faulks said that the cashiers did not know if he was serious or not, and they pressed the alarm button and went into the office.

The bank’s CCTV system showed that Donaldson was only in the building for 60 seconds, and when the police tracked him through other cameras in the area they saw him talking to another man they recognised, who was able to name him.

Donaldson was arrested two days later in the Dyke House area by officers who chased and caught him.

He made no reply to almost all questions when he was interviewed.

Mr Faulks said that Donaldson had served 11 years since 2000 in two sentences for burglary.

Barry Robson, mitigating, said Donaldson had been drinking into the early hours of the raid and he had also taken heroin.

He said it was a ridiculous offence, and that the “bomb” was a black spectacles case, which the cashiers would not have known.

Mr Robson said that Donaldson had served 21 years in prison for burglaries, and he was desperate to quit drugs for ever, because they had controlled and ruined his life.

A pre-sentence report from the Probation Service said that there was funding to send him on an intensive drug rehab course if his release date was not too far into the future.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told him: “This offence was obviously very serious, but it lacked any kind of sophistication.

“I have seen the CCTV, you went in and within 60 seconds you were out. But in those 60 seconds you made a frightening threat.

“The women working there were not to know how serious you were, and they were terrified.”

Donaldson, of Oak Grove, Hartlepool, was jailed for three years and nine months after he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery.

The judge told him: “You will serve half of that sentence, less the days you have already served on remand, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”