Edgeleybank raider spared jail after being caught on CCTV
AGUNMAN who “in a moment of madness” tried to rob a building society in Stockport, turned himself in after CCTV pictures showing him in the act were published in our sister paper the M.E.N.
Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court was told that Matthew Flaherty, 26, had acted on the spur of the moment, in rushing into the offices of the Vernon Building Society on Castle Street in Edgeley on December 1.
A gambling addict who had amassed debts of £15,000, he thought his problems might be over if he could frighten staff into handing over money.
He pointed a pistol at a terrified cashier, ordering her to fill a bag with cash.
Carole Smith 58, however, had the presence of mind to hit a panic button which also raised steel security shutters, and he fled empty-handed.
The court was told that the weapon he was carrying was an imitation firearm – a ball bearing gun.
Sentencing Flaherty, Mr Recorder John Bromley-Davenport told him: “It was an act of incredible folly, and really of great wickedness. Quite what came over you I cannot fathom.”
The Recorder praised the cool actions of the cashier who he said “showed great presence of mind, and great courage”.
The court was told that Flaherty of Old Chapel Street, Edgeley, had spent the afternoon playing gambling machines in Stockport on December 1, losing a considerable amount of money.
He returned home, armed himself with the gun, and, though at that point he had no detailed plan, he thought the pistol “might come in handy” in his attempts to get cash.
The court was told he was passing the building society branch, which he noticed was empty, and decided to act.
Michael Knowles defending, said: “It has been referred to as a moment of madness.”
He said Flaherty had significant problems in his life and he turned to gambling. Mr Knowles said his client had previously been a man of good character and after seeing pictures of himself in the M.E.N. he had tried to “make the best of a very bad situation” by turning himself in.
Mr Recorder Bramley-Davenport told him: “Normally someone doing something like this would get very little mercy and an immediate prison sentence.” He said however that he was persuaded it was an exceptional case.
Flaherty, who pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years. He will also have to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.
Matthew Flaherty was caught on CCTV