This prompt was instigated in response to a Scottish book trust competition which invited writers to submit true stories revealing their darkest secrets and confessions so I gave it a whirl. It got mixed reviews when I read it out. Some thought it was good others while others got confused and missed the point. I put it down to my reading skills because they got a different perspective when they read it. I never submitted it for the competition but that wasn't because I wasn't happy with it. Technical problems with the online process resulting in a missed deadline was the main reason but maybe you should never publish the fact you robbed a bank anyway.
Secrets and confessions – Daddy was a bank robber.
A bank job. Taking money from a bank that you weren’t supposed to. That is my confession. Bank robbery was a romantic victimless crime. It was a crime steeped in folklore. Robbers were infamous villains engraved into criminal history. Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Ronnie Biggs or Machine Gun Kelly were legends with a Robin Hood brand of notoriety because they took from the rich and that wasn’t a crime in the eyes of the poor.
At the time I didn’t consider how my crime would look through the eyes of my love. I didn’t want to live forever in the annals of mobster myth, all I wanted was a future with her and I was sure she would accept that my intentions were honourable. It never occurred to me that she wouldn’t welcome what I had done as my aim was building a life for us.
The Leeds Building Society was my target. It was a simple plan. Straight in, confront the teller, demand the money and get out with the cash. I had everything I needed and it went more or less to plan. There were no security guards. The teller was compliant. She had no choice. She obeyed me. I grabbed the loot and left without panic. My exit strategy of don’t run, don’t attract attention, blend in to the crowd and disappear worked perfectly. By the time anyone who could stop me was alerted I was long gone but It was far from the perfect crime. Before I even lifted the cash, which I had demanded from the teller, an evidential trail was being laid that would uncover my crime of passion. I hoped my darling could see that I did it for love. I did it for her. I couldn’t imagine she would picture it any other way.
I didn’t think about the CCTV either. Back in the early eighties the picture quality was poor. The footage was never presented in evidence. I imagine it would be just a fuzzy black and white film with lots of snowy interference showing a tall Caucasian male, about 6 foot two with slim build and short hair who made demands of the teller and left with the cash. Thinking back, wearing my favourite denim jacket, which was never off my back in those days, was not a clever move if I was trying to conceal my identity. My bearing and gait would probably have given me away but facial recognition would have been difficult and any defence lawyer worth his salt would have challenged the assertion it was me in the picture. The CCTV wasn’t needed though. The evidence against me was overwhelming and when I was caught, I didn’t plead my innocence. I didn’t bother with a lawyer either. I conducted my own defence and I was resolute, defiant and used the special defence that love conquers all. There was no other option. I had done the crime and I would do the time. I committed it all for love and I was prepared to accept the consequences. I believed it was right and I was going to act like a man.
When the results of my actions became evident, she cried. I was younger then. In those days the emotions of a female were as complicated as the workings of the washing machine. To my credit, I have now mastered the washing machine but female emotions can still be a mystery. The point is I was young and in love and as she cuddled into me, with tears streaming down her face, declaring, yes! She would stand by me for life, I wanted to share all her emotions that was why I committed the bank job. It was to show I was committed to her. I knew that night I had done the right thing even if it meant a life sentence.
When the spoils of the crime had been spent and all that was left was the symbol of our love, that sentence was passed. The love of my life questioned my motives and was instrumental in uncovering all the evidence needed to convict me. It was different now. I was hers and she would ensure I would never escape.
I am now twenty-nine years into what I believe will be a life sentence. Death will be my only release but I have no regrets. She tells me she has never forgiven me for my crime. In her eyes a crime of passion was not an excuse and she has made it her business to ensure I suffer. I sacrificed freedom and she has dedicated her life to ensuring I never forget it.
I still believe I did the right thing and despite her pretence I know she does too. The Leeds Building Society robbery didn’t get any media coverage but it changed our lives for ever. The little green pass book was probably the first symbol of our union and I robbed the book, without her permission, to buy an engagement ring. I had earned every penny that had been deposited in the bank and I had saved it for our future. I had put her name on the book as a symbol of trust. She didn’t contribute a single penny to the account but my trust in her has been twisted so she can tease that she should never trust me. I now know that everything I own is hers and everything she owns is hers too. I also know I’m happy because she tells me I am. She is still, very much, the love of my life and the reason for my existence. When I did the bank job I was young and stupid now I’m just stupid but we’re growing old together.
Ronnie Biggs is out now but I’m still doing my time. I have no regrets. My job was a ‘crime of passion’ he was just a robber. I got so much more than money.