Overstrand man with North Elmham links admits to attempted robbery at Holt bank

The scene in Holt after the attempted robbery.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY The scene in Holt after the attempted robbery. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
10:54 AM

A man suffering with mental health and drug misuse problems admitted to attempting to rob a bank with a toy gun.

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Christopher Carling pictured in 2011 with his book of poems A Tommy's Tale. Picture Matthew Usher.Christopher Carling pictured in 2011 with his book of poems A Tommy's Tale. Picture Matthew Usher.

Christopher Robert Carling, 48, of the High Street, Overstrand, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday charged with attempting to rob the TSB bank on Holt High Street on August 21 this year.

He was also charged with possession of an imitation firearm - a ball bearing gun - with intent to commit the robbery on the same date.

After the crime, Holt mayor Bryan Payne had said news of the attempted robbery was a “shock”.

Carling’s barrister Michael Clare said: “It is a serious offence, but it is a toy gun.”

He said there was a psychiatric element to the case and asked for a psychiatric report as well as a full pre-sentence report on Carling.

At an earlier hearing before Norwich magistrates, prosecutors told the court that Carling admitted to taking part in what “seems to be an ill-thought enterprise”.

He had gone into the TSB with a carrier bag and what appeared to staff to be a firearm.

Carling had asked the female cashier for money, but she pressed the panic alarm, at which point, he picked up his carrier bag and left.

He had bought the ballbearing gun, which he took into the bank, in a toy shop.

His solicitor described it as “an amateur production” and said he had not bought any pellets or gas for the gun.

Magistrates were told that Carling was at a “low point”, with financial and residential issues coming on top of mental health problems and drug misuse.

Carling published a collection of 19 poems, called A Tommy’s Tale.

He moved to North Elmham, near Dereham, 22 years ago and wrote A Tommy’s Tale while he lived in the Breckland village.

He started writing the poems seven years ago in memory of his father, who died in 1984.

Carling, who had two children at the time the book was published, did a public reading of the poems at North Elmham.

The event raised money for Combat Stress charity, which supports military veterans suffering from mental health problems.

He told the EDP at the time he had suffered with post traumatic stress disorder following a car accident 13 years ago.

Carling was arrested the day after the attempted robbery just after 5pm after he handed himself in at a Norwich police station.

Judge Stephen Holt adjourned the sentence yesterday until October 10 and told Carling that the fact he had pleaded guilty at such an early opportunity was powerful mitigation in his favour.

Carling was remanded in custody.

Do you have a crime story? Email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk.

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