Echo article: BU lecturer charged for bank robbery*


*this is a fictional news article written to a brief for 2nd year Professional Writing unit:

Bournemouth University lecturer charged for bank robbery

A Bournemouth University lecturer was arrested yesterday having robbed a town centre bank using a gun and a ‘bomb’, Bournemouth Police have revealed.

The motive remains unclear at this stage, but Southampton resident Georgina Pane, who has been remanded to police custody, has denied the charges, claiming, “I was not even there! This is a conspiracy.”

The incident took place at the Lansdowne branch of the HSBC at 11 a.m. when there were only two cashiers and four customers in the bank. Bournemouth Police Inspector Nicola Cooper reports that, having waited in the queue, Pane pulled out a gun and a large black package, which she said contained a bomb ‘large enough to blow this whole building up’ and warned the cashiers not to raise the alarm.

Cashiers handed over around £4000. Pane told everyone to stay in the bank for at least ten minutes and not to touch the bomb. She then left and drove away in a car.

An hour later, Pane crashed into a telephone booth in Ringwood, where Police found her “shaken” but unhurt.

“She seemed to be in a trance,” said Cooper, “When our officers reached the spot, she was standing outside, appearing bewildered and lost.”

Pane willingly stepped inside the ambulance and was taken to Royal Bournemouth Hospital and treated for shock, at which time she was identified as the bank robber and was arrested and charged by Cooper with robbery and conspiracy.

The stolen money has been recovered and the bomb —which Pane had claimed could be detonated from one mile away— turned out to be fake; just a cardboard box with metal parts and sand inside, wrapped in a black refuse sack. The gun was also a fake, according to Cooper, but it seemed real enough to the people inside the bank. Eyewitness, Daniel Jackson, recalls, “I was standing right behind her. I could see she was not herself, she kept looking around and checking her handbag… It was really horrible when she pulled that gun. She was very nervous and it was shaking in her hand and I was really worried she would accidentally shoot one of us.”

HSBC’s Dorset Regional Manager, David Brood, praised the cashiers, Bianca and Jeff, for keeping their cool and is glad nobody was hurt. When asked whether the robbery indicated lax security at his banks, Brood replied, “No, not at all. We do have sufficient security at the bank, which alerted the police within seconds of the attempt. These things will happen… It is how you cope with them that matters – and I think we coped with it very well.”

Bournemouth University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gill Slammer declined to comment on the incident, but did stress, “This is not a reflection on our staff.”

Ex-colleague, James Puis, who saw her at the KFC shortly before the robbery attests that Pane did not seem herself. “She hardly recognised me when I said ‘hi’… She was agitated and not quite there… I have never seen her like that,” adding, “It is hard to believe it all. The Georgina I know is not that kind of a person. I am sure it is not the way the police say it is. There has to be some explanation.”

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