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Man in Bournemouth attempts to rob a bank with a banana

Barclays bank Bournemouth banana robbery

Boscombe’s Barclays bank branch in Bournemouth was in for a surprise when Laurence Vonderdell (aged 50) entered the branch and demanded money… with a banana.

Laurence Vonderdell was recently evicted from his flat Christchurch Road flat after breaking conditions of his tenancy. In order to get arrested and secure a roof over his head, he wandered into a Nationwide building society branch. However, the threat of too many people in the branch meant that he chose to leave and go to a nearby Barclays branch.

During a hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday 17 June 2019, the court was shown CCTV footage of Vonderdell rapidly walking up and down outside the bank. In his hand was an orange Sainsbury’s bag which was used to conceal what appeared to be a weapon.

Laurence James Vonderdell on CCTV

The man chose to threaten a single cashier, Wendy Marsh, pointing the weapon directly at her. He immediately demanded that she hands over all of the money in the till. The cashier managed to activate the emergency alarm before handing over £1,100 in £20 notes from her till.

It was later discovered that the weapon in the bag was, in fact, a banana.

Anne-Marie Garvie, defending stated that her client approached a police car, admitted that he committed an “armed robbery” and asked to be arrested. “They refused to do that and told him to go to the local police station. He then walked several miles to hand himself in,” she said.

During the hearing, Vonderdell admitted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. His solicitor said that the man had no intention to hurt anyone and only wanted to “secure a roof over his head”.

The court also heard that Laurence Vonderdell suffered from psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and Anxious Avoidant Personality Disorder.

Judge Robert Pawson concluded with: “He’s gone into a bank with a banana in a plastic bag… What would have happened if an armed response unit had been called?” The judge then sentenced Vonderdell to 14 months in prison.

Detective Constable Andy Hale, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Even though the defendant handed himself in shortly after this incident and the cash was recovered, this must still have been a very distressing incident for the cashier involved.”

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