Beds, Herts & Bucks

Man jailed for attempted robbery at Bedford bookmakers

A man who discharged an imitation firearm during an attempted robbery at a bookmakers in Bedfordshire has been jailed for 11 years.

Ciaran McGrath, 40, of Mile End Road, Bedford, was challenged by a member of staff at Chapman Bookmakers in Harrowden Road on 13 October.

Luton Crown Court heard the gun was discharged and McGrath, who wore a wig as a disguise, fled empty handed.

He had denied attempted robbery and was convicted by a jury last month.

He also denied and was convicted of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

'Acted instinctively'

Timothy Chapman, who tackled McGrath, was awarded £300 for his bravery by Judge Barbara Mensah.

He said he instinctively grappled with the gunman and was hit on the head with the weapon, which was then discharged.

Judge Mensah said: "He behaved in a way some might consider foolish in taking on someone with a gun but he acted instinctively and deserves a reward from public funds for the bravery he clearly showed."

McGrath's barrister, Timothy Horgan, told the court that his client had expressed remorse.

The court heard that McGrath had been jailed previously for a £10,000 robbery using an imitation firearm at a post office in 1992.

Mr Horgan said: "This latest offence was committed because he was desperate for money.

"He was gambling far too heavily and his pride would not let him go back to his brother to ask for money.

"He accepts that Mr Chapman was a hard-working man going about his business and should never have been put in the position he was."

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