Grantham woman robbed bank to pay off loans after hiding loss of job from husband

Nicola Lehair
Nicola Lehair
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A wife staged two bank robberies in a bid to raise cash after hiding the loss of her job from her husband, a court heard.

Nicola Lehair took out pay day loans to cover her lack of income and made out to her husband that she was still working.

But she found herself under increasing pressure to pay back the loans and out of desperation hit on the idea of robbing a bank.

Lincoln Crown Court heard how she tried to hide her identity by putting a black cloak over head before walking up to the counter of the Yorkshire Bank in High Street, Grantham.

Then she handed a note to the cashier which read: “Give me all the money from behind this counter. Don’t speak to anyone. Don’t look at anyone. Just give me the money. I do have a gun and will use it if necessary.”

The female cashier initially thought the incident was a joke but when she realised that Lehair was serious she handed over a bundle of notes.

Lehair, who did not utter a word throughout the raid, then made off with the £2,375.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said that 15 days later Lehair tried to carry out a second raid on a branch of Santander Bank at the corner of High Street and St Peter’s Hill, Grantham.

Mr Scott said: “She wore sunglasses and a dark, peaked cap. She calmly waited her turn in the queue. When she reached the counter she handed over another note.”

She again demanded money and threatened she had a gun but when the cashier hesitated she picked up her bag and walked out.

Once outside she changed her top and removed the cap and sunglasses but she was caught just 200 yards from the bank after an alert police officer spotted her carrying the distinctive drawstring bag she had while carrying out the hold-up.

Mr Scott said: “She is of previous good character. These were pre-planned bank robberies which included the threat of lethal force targeting large sums of money. There were some efforts made to disguise her appearance.”

Lehair, 28, of Goodliff Road, Grantham, admitted robbery on April 30 and attempted robbery on May 15. She was jailed for two years.

Recorder Patrick Upward QC told her: “Offences of this kind inevitably lead to a prison sentence. I bear in mind you are a woman of good character and you were under considerable pressure. No weapon was used or produced.”

Mark McNeil, defending, said: “She had a good relationship with her husband but there were various issues.

“They ran their finances separately. He was responsible for certain items and she was responsible for others.

“She lost her job in January but she maintained the impression she was still working by taking out a pay day loan. Her husband thought there was an income coming in and the pay day loan company was exerting pressure on her.

“She was looking on the internet at ways of making money and initially she put this idea out of her mind.

“This is out of character. She felt so desperate financially. She didn’t tell her husband. She felt in despair.”

“The money went towards paying off her debts. She is deeply remorseful. She knows she is going to lose her marriage and is going to lose her liberty.”

Mr McNeil said that nine days after her arrest Lehair was offered a job as a book keeper for an organisation which runs care homes but that came too late to help her. He said: “Had she managed to keep herself going she would have been able to pay off her debts.”

Det Insp Pete Grayson of Lincolnshire Police said: “In 20 years as a police officer I have never dealt with a woman bank robber. It is rare to get someone with no previous convictions committing an offence as serious as this.

“I know she had financial pressures but millions of people in this country have financial pressures and they don’t resort to bank robbery.”

A spokesman for the Woodland Trust confirmed that Lehair was employed by the organisation as an HR administrator and resigned her post on January 22 this year.