Bank robber to hand back cash

Colin Smith

Colin Smith

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A HIGHLY dangerous armed robber who carried out a terrifying raid on a Wigan bank has been ordered to hand back almost £60,000.

Just hours after the violent raid Colin Smith went on a spending spree and when he spent almost £7,000 cash for a VW Golf GTi a sceptical saleswoman jokingly asked if he had robbed a bank.

Smith just laughed but he was later tracked down and arrested for the attack and last June was put behind bars indefinitely.

This week he was brought back to court in a Proceeds of Crime hearing and Judge Gerald Clifton ruled that he had benefited from the crime by £160,000.

His realisable assets, including the car, were ruled to be £59,200 and he has to pay that sum within the next three weeks or he will face an extra 18 months’ imprisonment.

Smith, 30, formerly of Warrington Road, Leigh, had pleaded guilty to the robbery which also involved an unknown accomplice.

They had burst into the Lloyds TSB premises in Ormskirk Road, Pemberton on May 2, 2008 wearing balaclavas and brandishing a large kitchen knife and a revolver.

While his accomplice stood in the middle of the bank and held a large knife aloft, telling everyone to get to the floor, Smith put a handgun to the head of a member of staff at the inquiry counter and dragged her to the floor.

The woman was screaming for help, but Smith dragged her across the bank while she was on the floor and forced her to open the back office. The pair then put cash into a rucksack and made their getaway in a car parked around the corner.

Exactly a week later police followed him in his new car and stopped him. He ran off over garden fences and items he had bought in his spending spree were found in the boot.

When police raided a house in Brentwood Grove, Leigh, they found £1,410 hidden under a settee and a plasma TV and system had also been installed in the premises. It also emerged he had paid a lot of the rent up front. Police became suspicious, seized the cash and arrested Smith.

The assets included the value of the Volkswagen Golf and high value electrical items purchased with cash from the robbery, as well as approximately £51,000 in cash deemed to have been hidden by Smith.

When Judge Clifton jailed him last summer and ordered him to serve a minimum of six years for public protection he said there was “a very serious risk” of him committing further offences of violence.

And after this week’s hearing Det Insp Jon Keeley from Wigan police said: “Smith made a significant amount of money from his criminality, and now, thanks to the Proceeds of Crime Act and the vigilant work carried out by the financial investigator, he will lose it all.

“This goes to show once again that GMP will not only look to send those who benefit from crime to prison, but we will also take your cash and valuables off you too. Those who think they can escape us by hiding or disposing of assets should also realise that this will not prevent us from seizing them.”