Three Luton men sentenced over Watford bank incident

24/08/2011

On 19 August three Luton men pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to offences in connection with an incident at The Co-operative Bank in Watford in June. On 23 August they were sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison.

Former Co-Operative Bank worker, Muhammed Qasim Salam, 23, from Bracknell Close in Luton, Imran Khalifa, 23, unemployed, from Maiden Hall Road in Luton and Faizan Rehman, 23, also unemployed, from Havelock Road, Luton, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit a bomb hoax.

Salam was sentenced to six years in total; Khalifa to five years and Rehman to five years.

Police had been called to the bank in Market Street at 10.18am on June 2, to reports of a man with an explosive device strapped to his leg.

Events unfolded rapidly however, as it soon became clear that all customers and members of staff had left the bank safely and the man was on his own.

The dramatic events came to a conclusion a few hours later when the man, Salam, surrendered and was arrested. Khalifa and Rehman were arrested at their home addresses the following day.

£161,000 was stolen from the bank following a plan hatched by the three men. The cash was recovered from woods in Bradgers Hill Road in Luton on Friday, 12 August.

CPS Thames and Chiltern Complex Casework Unit Head, Adrian Roberts, said: "The three defendants have accepted their responsibility for an incident that went well beyond a theft from the bank and caused enormous distress to members of staff and the public, as well as massive disruption to Watford town centre.

"This was a very serious offence and these young men have thrown away years of their lives on a plot to steal from the bank that was relatively easy for the police to unravel. As a result of their actions they will now have time to contemplate their crimes, whilst serving their sentences."