A CASHIER working at a Coventry bookies was ‘beyond scared’ when a gunman forced her back behind the counter and made her open the till before escaping with the day’s float.
And a judge had heard robber Ian Chambers suffers from a schizophrenic disorder, paranoia, hears voices in his head and suffers from grandiose delusions.
Chambers (35) who was living rough in the Hillfields area of Coventry at the time, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbery and possessing an imitation firearm at the time.
After hearing from one of the psychiatrists who had prepared reports on Chambers, Judge Peter Cooke ordered him to be detained in a secure psychiatric unit under the Mental Health Act.
He also imposed a restriction order, which means Chambers will only be discharged with the consent of the Secretary of State – and could be returned to hospital at any time if his behaviour ever gives cause for further concern.
Prosecutor Anthony Cartin said the robbery took place at the William Hill betting shop in Far Gosford Street, Coventry, at shortly after 10am on June 28 last year.
That was the day before Chambers had been due to appear before Coventry magistrates for offences including handling a stolen mobile phone, stealing a laptop computer from a restaurant, stealing a bottle of whisky from a shop and carrying an offensive weapon, a metal bar, for which he also had to be dealt.
A cashier who had worked there for more than three years had come out from behind the secure counter to replace a poster which had fallen to the floor when she was approached by Chambers.
He had on a long Parka jacket with the hood up partly covering his face, and said he wanted to put a bet on.
“He then pulled out a handgun and held it in front of him, pointing it towards her chest, and said: ‘I need all the money now.’
“He poked her with it to the shoulder and indicated to go to the till, and she went back behind the counter, followed by Mr Chambers who kept pointing the gun at her,” said Mr Cartin.
As he kept demanding the money and ordering her to hurry up, with the gun still pointing at her, the terrified cashier, who said she was ‘beyond scared,’ gave him £408 from the till.
Chambers demanded more, and she feared she would be shot as she explained that it was the starting float for the day and was the only cash there was, and he kicked the door open and left.
The incident was caught by a CCTV camera in the bookies, and Chambers was also captured by a camera from a nearby shop, which led to him being identified by an officer who knew him.
He was arrested, and a search of the area of Hillfields where he was known to have been sleeping at that time led to the Parka being recovered, but the gun has never been found, so it was not known whether it was real or an imitation,
As a result of her ordeal the cashier, who had worked there for more than three years and had always feared something like that happening, said she had not been able to go back, and was now on benefits, which she had not wanted to do.
The court heard that following his arrest Chambers, whose previous convictions included a shop robbery in 2011, was ‘too volatile’ to be interviewed.
In response to questions from Sophie Murray, defending, consultant psychiatrist Dr Layth Sahib said Chambers was being treated at the North London Clinic, where he had been transferred from prison.
He has been diagnosed as suffering from schizoaffective disorder, is paranoid, has hallucinations and hears voices, and suffers from grandiose delusions, including notions of time travel, telekinesis and delusions of his own divinity.
Chambers was also being treated for HIV and tuberculosis from which he also suffers.
Imposing the hospital order and restriction order, Judge Cooke, who pointed out that Chambers was not at court because of his condition, said: “This man has been having contact with the psychiatric services since the age of 15, whose symptoms were being compounded by long-standing drug abuse.
“But it has to be concluded that Ian Chambers still bears a residual significant degree of culpability for his offending, and what took him into the bookies was a desire for money.
“My focus must be to identify that measure which best offers the public, like that unfortunate lady working in the bookmaker’s, the lowest chance of recidivism.”