Devon

Paranoid schizophrenic robber Barry Little jailed

A paranoid schizophrenic who tried to rob his own building society branch so he could get "help" has been jailed.

Barry Little, 34, previously from Topsham, had just been released from prison when he attempted to hold up the Britannia Building Society in Cowick Street, Exeter, in January.

When he produced a knife and demanded money, he was overpowered by staff and customers, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Little admitted attempted robbery and was sentenced to 40 months.

'Wanted treatment'

The court was told Little waved a serrated fish-gutting knife in front of the frightened cashier's face.

Warren Robinson, defending, said his client had a psychiatric history and had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who has heard voices in the past.

"His motivation for this offence was that he sought more help and wanted treatment which offered stability and consistency," he said.

But Judge Francis Gilbert QC said having considered medical and psychiatric reports, he did not believe a hospital order was appropriate.

"This was a clear escalation in seriousness because of the use of a knife to threaten," Judge Gilbert said.

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