Court hears Cork bank cashier asked 'is this a joke?' as man attempted to rob bank

A man who poses “a potentially serious risk to the community” was stopped outside an AIB bank in Cork with three knives in an open position, a tin of butane gas and he had a lighter taped to his left hand.
Court hears Cork bank cashier asked 'is this a joke?' as man attempted to rob bank
Unrelated and file image of bank teller

A man who poses “a potentially serious risk to the community” was stopped outside an AIB bank in Cork with three knives in an open position, a tin of butane gas and he had a lighter taped to his left hand.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a three-year jail term, with the final year suspended, on Noel Cambridge of 22 Willow Park, Douglas Road, Cork, who pleaded guilty to a charge that on last August 21 he went to the Allied Irish Bank branch on Douglas Road and attempted to commit a robbery.

“What he was going to do, nobody really know. He was in a very florid, potentially very dangerous state, with knives in his possession. He is potentially a very serious risk to the community.

“He has a history of addiction to drugs and alcohol and a history of mental illness and is well known to the services. He is like everyone being dealt with by care in the community,” he said. Judge Ó Donnabháin has frequently commented on the concept of care in the community translating as a lack of support and a lack of care for the individual who needs it.

The judge acknowledged in Cambridge’s case that there were members of his family who were active in trying to care for him.

Garda Barry Lawton previously testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Noel Cambridge arrived at the counter of AIB on Douglas Road, Cork, on August 2, 2019 and put a bag-for-life on the counter and told the cashier to put cash in it.

“The cashier asked, ‘Is this a joke?’ The defendant then said, ‘I have blades’,” Garda Lawton said.

Cambridge left the scene empty-handed. From CCTV in the area he was seen going to a petrol station on South Douglas Road and in to Nemo Rangers. He went to the gym for a period of time. He returned to the AIB later that same day, Garda Lawton said.

Fortunately, Garda JP Twomey – who was off-duty at the time – was present in the bank. Garda Twomey phoned for the assistance of colleagues and when he was there he searched Noel Cambridge.

The defendant had three knives in an open position, He had glass wrapped in plastic, a Tesco bag, a tin of butane gas, a water bottle cut in half.

“On his left hand he had a lighter taped with duct tape,” Garda Lawton testified.

In a follow-up search of his car there was a balaclava, a large knife and a BB gun for shooting ball-bearings.

Paula McCarthy, defence barrister said the accused clearly had psychiatric issues at the time. Ms McCarthy BL said the defendant was suffering a psychotic episode on the particular day.

The judge said it was very fortuitous that Garda Twomey happened to be in the bank on the day.

In suspending the last year of the three-year sentence the judge required Cambridge to comply with the directions of the probation service for a year after his release from prison.

- This story was updated at 8.23pm

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