Bank customer mugged Barnstaple ATM user after being refused cash

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An angry bank customer smashed a computer screen and mugged a cashpoint user after being told there was no money in his account. 

Charles Heeney lost his temper inside the HSBC bank in Barnstaple and lashed out with his skateboard before attacking a man who was taking out money from an ATM at the nearby Lloyds branch in Cross Street. 

He knocked over customer John Owen and left him sprawling on the pavement in agony with a broken hip as he grabbed his wallet and the £30 he had just withdrawn. 

Mr Owen grabbed the drawstring from Heeney’s hoodie and police were able to trace him from his DNA. 

Shoppers chased the robber through streets and an alleyway and recovered Mr Owen’s wallet which he dropped during the pursuit. 

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Heeney, aged 21, of Gloster Road, Barnstaple, and formerly of Spyders Lane, Exmouth, was ruled to be unfit to plead due to mental illness but a jury at Exeter Crown Court concluded that he had committed robbery and criminal damage. 

Recorder Mr Timothy Kenefick adjourned the case for further psychiatric reports which will advise on whether Heeney should receive a hospital order. 

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Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said Heeney went into the HSBC branch in the High Street shortly before noon on September 14 last year. 

Mr Crabb said: “He wanted some money but there was not enough in his account and he had a disagreement with staff and hit a computer screen with a skateboard he was carrying. 

“He left and turned into Cross Street where he came across Mr Owen who had just withdrawn £30. He went up and said ‘give me the money’ and then grabbed the cash and wallet. 

“Mr Owen tried to get them back and was pushed over causing him to fall and suffer a serious injury.” 

Mr Owen told the jury he spent a week in hospital with a fractured hip and is still using crutches. 

His wife Gabrielle said that by chance she was in the HSBC during the first incident and guessed it was the same man when she learned her husband had been robbed. 

Heeney did not give evidence and is currently being treated in a mental unit. 

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