TWO brothers who staged an armed robbery with a plastic toy gun bought for £1 from a shop in Morecambe have been jailed for a total of 12 years.
Preston Crown Court heard that a female member of staff at the Marsden Building Society on Church Street in Lancaster nearly collapsed to the floor when one of them pointed a fake gun at her.
Dominick and Christopher Garside escaped with at least £28,000 and were later arrested in Rhyl, North Wales. The first defendant was reported to the police by his own sister who recognised him from CCTV footage of the crime on March 29 this year.
Dominick Garside, 22, from Buxton Road, Stockport and his brother Christopher, 25, from River Street, Rhyl had both admitted charges of robbery and possessing an imitation firearm. Each was handed a six year prison term.
The court heard how Christopher Garside kept a watch outside while Dominick entered the premises at the back of the Cumbrian Properties Estate Agency.
Dominick Garside had his hood up and was wearing aviator style sunglasses with mirrored lenses and a scarf around his mouth.
Miss Kirsten McAteer, prosecuting, said the robbery happened at around noon. Both brothers had been in the area from about 9.15am.
During the morning, Christopher Garside entered Cumbrian Properties and spoke to a letting advisor for several minutes. It appeared that he was visually scanning the premises during the first part of their conversation.
His brother later approached the building society counter at the back, put a carrier bag on the counter and pointed the imitation gun at a woman member of staff. He said: “Can you give me everything you’ve got please?”
He went on to point at a safe, told her to remove money from a tin and place it in a carrier bag. He even said “sorry”. The firearm was never recovered by police.
The woman and her colleagues were scared and shaken by what happened. In a personal statement she spoke of having lost confidence, is still constantly looking over her shoulder and had problems sleeping.
The pair were arrested in Rhyl on April 21, at a B&B. where they had been staying. Items had been bought and about £9,000 was recovered from a safe in one of the rooms.
Mr Peter Horgan, for Dominick Garside, said the brothers had experienced difficulties for a number of years and they made the stupid and criminal decision to carry out the offence.
Mr Horgan said: “He has displayed genuine remorse. He recognises how wrong his actions were and just how much impact they have had on those victims.”
Mr Gareth James, for Christopher Garside, said the robbery had been amateurish and unsophisticated. “My client kept watch outside the premises. He didn’t actually walk in, but he accepts he was a fully participating member”.
Judge Michael Leeming QC told the brothers the woman who had the imitation gun pointed at her had understandably been truly terrified. Both of you have genuine remorse.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Brian Shepherd, Lancaster CID, said: “This was a terrifying raid for the cashiers involved, as they believed Dominick was carrying a real gun.”