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3 October 2013, 15:54
A man who robbed a Norwich building society at knife-point has started a six-year jail sentence.
Michael Toomey, 42, entered the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society in Plumstead Road at about 4.45pm on Monday 16 September, threatening staff and demanding money.
He ordered cashiers to open the tills before stealing large sums of cash while all the time brandishing a knife towards three female members of staff.
During the robbery, a customer entered the branch and quickly realised what was happening. He managed to escape, despite being told by Toomey to stay inside, and dialled 999 to raise the alarm.
Toomey got away with £6,531, fleeing the scene on foot. Police were immediately deployed with teams sent to the scene and surrounding area to search for the suspect.
The caller provided officers with a description of the offender who was wearing red tracksuit bottoms, jacket and a multi-coloured hat.
Armed response officer PC Richard Doughty was deployed to the scene and spotted a man fitting the robber's description running across Borrowdale Drive before jumping over a fence into a garden.
PC Doughty chased the suspect through several gardens and Toomey was detained after being tasered in a garden in Dugard Avenue.
He was arrested on suspicion of robbery and taken to Wymondham Police Investigation Centre where he was searched and then quizzed by detectives. Police recovered a large amount of cash found hidden in Toomey's right sock, while notes and cheques were also found in his shorts. Toomey had discarded items of clothing, including the bottoms, jacket and hat, while running from officers.
In interview Toomey refused to speak with officers, replying 'no comment' to questioning.
He was interviewed for a second time but again declined to comment.
CCTV in the branch captured most of the incident from when Toomey walks in before leaping over the counter with a knife in his hand. He is seen going to cash drawers before entering the back office standing over a female member of staff as she attempts to open the safe.
Toomey, of no fixed abode, was charged with robbery and appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday 2 October for sentencing after pleading guilty to the offence. He was jailed for six years and ordered to pay £120 victim surcharge.
Investigating officer Det Con Damian Shailer, from Norwich CID, said: "Fortunately no one was injured during the incident but this was a terrifying experience for staff involved who were understandably left very shaken by events.
"The prompt call from the customer meant we were able to dispatch officers to the scene immediately with details on the man's description which ultimately led to the swift arrest of the suspect who was detained within an hour of the incident happening.
"Toomey has a long history of offending and was only released from prison in May this year following a five-and-a-half year sentence for burglary where violence was used. It is pleasing to see him back behind bars where he belongs."