A FATHER-OF-NINE who left a bank cashier terrified after demanding cash has been sentenced to two years in prison.
Aldo Ferraro, 60, of Sussex Square, did not flee the scene but instead waited in the corner of the bank and had a cigarette while he waited for the police to arrive.
He said he wanted to be arrested to draw attention to an ongoing issue he has with the Department for Work and Pensions about payments of his benefits.
Ferraro had initially been charged with robbery in connection with the incident on June 6 at Lloyds TSB, in Regent Street.
But prosecutors at Swindon Crown Court dropped the allegation after he admitted an offence of causing a public nuisance.
Ferraro entered the bank on the morning of June 6 and went up to the counter, passing a note to the female cashier which read: “This is a bank robbery, hand over all the bank’s money, no Euros.”
The cashier said she feared for her safety and that of the customers so she handed over notes which amounted to £3,856.
Ferraro then pointed to the corner of the room, laughed and said he was going to wait there until the police came. He lit a cigarette and when he was asked to leave, he said: “No I am not leaving, I am waiting for the police, I’ve just robbed the bank.”
Rob Ross, defending, told the judge: “This man made a mistake.
“By doing this he thought it might force the issue one way or the other.
“He accepts it wasn’t the right way to go about it.
“Now he knows how to go about it there should be no need for him to take such extreme measures.”
The court also heard Ferraro had been jailed in 2000 for a bomb hoax at the social security office which brought the town centre to a standstill.
While in custody he went on a hunger strike in protest at the way he believed Swindon’s social services were treating his family.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Vere-Hodge QC said a man of Ferraro’s age should have known better and, despite him claiming it was a protest, he still took the money away from the cashier causing her a large amount of distress.
He said: “Bank staff are entitled to protection, not only as they do their job but also as it comes before the courts.
“This lady cashier was not to know you were relatively harmless and that this was some protest you were taking about your benefits.
“A considerable sum of money was taken. If it was really a protest, one wonders why you don’t simply leave it there. You carried out what is a foolish exercise.”
Ferraro was sentenced to two years in prison, less 35 days he had spent in custody as a result of breaching his bail.