Pair jailed after stealing £78,000 from bank security guards in North Tyneside

Lee Cook (left) and Stephen Bayley (right) have been jailed for their involvement in a bank robbery in Wallsend. Credit: NCJ Media.

Two men from North Tyneside have been jailed after stealing up to £78,000 from security guards at a bank on two separate occasions. Lee Cook, 47, pointed an imitation firearm in the face of one of two G4S workers who were delivering cash to the Nationwide Building Society in Wallsend on 30 November 2020.Newcastle Crown Court heard how the victim handed over the box, which contained £39,000 in cash, as he feared he was going to be shot.On 10 January 2022, Cook returned to the same premises on High Street East with Stephen Bayley, 39.They targeted another security guard while he was delivering cassettes of notes to the ATM machine. They threatened him with an imitation firearm and told him "drop the box, drop the box."Andrew Espley, prosecuting, said the security guard feared they were going to shoot him and handed over the box, which contained £39,000.Following the second robbery Bayley went on the run, but was arrested by police in Hartlepool on 18 January.The court in Newcastle heard how a second man had taken part in the first robbery with Cook, however it had not been possible to identify him.

Matthew Donkin, defending Cook, told the court that he was under pressure due to debts which he had incurred due to drugs. He said: "He maintains that there were threats being made to him."Mr Donkin said that Cook was suffering from a mixed anxiety and depressive disorder at the time, adding: "He was plainly not a very well man."David Callan, defending Bayley, told the court that Bayley has ADHD and mental health difficulties. In relation to the offence, he said: "It's a high value of goods £39,000 but I submit it's not a very high value."Judge Moreland said the second incident was a "professionally planned commercial robbery" with clearly a significant degree of planning.She said: "There must have been surveillance over the building to identify when the security guard would attend to refill the ATM". The judge said they had obtained a van and there was evidence of a second phone being acquired.

Cook, of Morpeth Terrace, North Shields, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.Bayley, of Richmond Gardens, Wallsend, was convicted of one count of robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and a separate charge of breaching a restraining order.

Judge Moreland sentenced Cook to 15 years behind bars. Bayley was sent to prison for 12 years and nine months.

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