A bank robber has been jailed for six years after he held-up a Royal Bank of Scotland branch, in Norwich, and threatened a cashier into handing over £420 by pretending he had a weapon.

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Terry Cole, 55, pictured, was on early release from a nine-and-a-half year sentence for a string of robberies at banks and building societies when he carried out the robbery on the RBS branch, in Queen Street, on May 18, this year.

Norwich Crown Court heard he walked into the bank after 3.30pm when there were no customers present and was carrying a plastic bag with what looked like a weapon in it.

Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said that Cole then handed the female cashier another bag and told her to put money in it. Mr Ivory said: “As she was doing this she was mindful that other customers could come in at any moment. She thought he had a gun or knife in the bag and said she believed he would have hurt her if she had not done as she was told.”

After the cashier handed over the money, Cole then made his escape, but was arrested shortly afterwards at an address he was living at on Earlham Road, but only £135 of the cash was recovered.

He told police that the item in the bag which he pretended was a weapon was a can of deodorant. “He accepted that in behaving the way he did the intention was to make the cashier think it was a gun,” added Mr Ivory. Mr Ivory said Cole later confessed to police and said that he had owed some money and was not coping very well out of prison. The court heard that he had spent 18 years out of the past 20 years in prison as he had also received a 10-year sentence in 1997 for another series of bank and building society hold-ups. Cole, of Earlham Road, Norwich, admitted this latest robbery.

Jailing him for six years Judge Peter De Mille told him: “The victim believed there was a weapon in the bag which could harm her or other people.”

Jude Durr, for Cole, said his client deserved credit for his guilty plea and said that having spent 18 years of the past 20 years in prison, he was institutionalised.

“He has become isolated from his family and friends. He accepts he has become institutionalised.”

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