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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Robber, 74, gets sentence wish
A homeless 74-year-old man who robbed a bank because he was desperate to return to jail has been granted his wish - a five-year sentence.

Robert Newnham told staff at the Halifax in Dorchester, Dorset, that he had a gun and demanded 1,000.

Newnham, who had been just released from jail, later told police it was easier to rob a bank than try to organise his pension.

He admitted one count of robbery at Dorchester Crown Court.

Earlier the court had heard the alcoholic had become institutionalised and committed the robbery so he would be sent back to prison.

He didn't have the knowledge or the faculty to get his pension and decided the only way he could get money was to commit this offence
David Campbell, defending

David Campbell, defending, told the court Newnham had struggled to cope with his alcoholism after being released from prison.

He added: "He didn't have the knowledge or the faculty to get his pension and decided the only way he could get money was to commit this offence in the knowledge there would be only one option - that of prison."

Recorder Andrew Langdon QC, told Newnham he would serve at least half the sentence before being released on licence.

Mr Langdon said: "This was far from being a well-planned or ruthless robbery.

"You were, as you so often are, drunk - you were almost incoherent."

But he added: "It was no less frightening for the victim that you were 74 as opposed to 64 or 54 or 44."

The court heard Newnham has been offending for 36 years with almost annual shoplifting convictions since 1983.

'Nowhere to live'

He also has previous convictions for possessing offensive weapons in public.

This latest offence was his third conviction for robbery.

He was jailed for six years in November 1998 at Chichester Crown Court for robbing a bank in Worthing, West Sussex, which was later reduced to four and a half years by the Court of Appeal.

In August 2002, he was jailed for five years for robbing a bank in Croydon, London, in March 2002.

When police arrested him in Dorchester after his latest robbery he had 940 in 10 and 20 bank notes on him and had not spent any of his loot, the court heard.

The 37 days Newnham has already spent in custody will be deducted from his sentence.

Det Con Jon Bayliff, from Dorset Police, said: "He said to us it was easier for him to rob a bank than to get his pension sorted out.

"He didn't have anywhere to live and was having a few problems."


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