Man forced taxi driver to rob Kirkcaldy bank

Patrick forced the taxi driver to rob the Bank of Scotland in Carberry Road, Kirkcaldy.  Pic: George Mcluskie.

Patrick forced the taxi driver to rob the Bank of Scotland in Carberry Road, Kirkcaldy. Pic: George Mcluskie.

A gym instructor sparked terror after forcing a taxi driver to rob a bank for him.

Andrew Patrick held a gun at petrified Alistair Rankine before giving him a bag said to have a bomb inside.

Andrew Patrick

Andrew Patrick

Patrick – who pretended to be Polish – ordered the cabbie to steal cash from a Bank of Scotland branch in Kirkcaldy.

Mr Rankine handed over a note to staff which claimed they had only minutes to fill the bag – and that devices would go off if police were called.

The letter also claimed the driver had a bomb strapped to him.

However, when Mr Rankine eventually left the bank with almost £10,000, Patrick was gone.

The incident sparked a huge police present in the area.  Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

The incident sparked a huge police present in the area. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

Amid dramatic scenes, a team of armed police and an army bomb unit soon arrived.

The explosives were luckily found to be fake each consisting of little more than tubes, cotton wool and a mobile phone circuit board.

Patrick was later snared following a high profile media appeal although initially denied being involved.

But, the 40 year-old is now behind bars after he today (Wednesday) admitted to a charge of assault and robbery.

Patrick will learn his fate when he is sentenced next month.

The first offender had been working at the time as an instructor at the Fitness Factor gym in Kirkcaldy.

He was earning up to £300 per week, but prosecutor Allan Nicol said it appeared he had been having “some financial difficulties”.

Cabbie Mr Rankine was working at around 1pm last November 11 when he was asked to make a pick up at an industrial estate in Lochgelly.

It was Patrick who had made the call to the taxi office while using a fake Polish accent.

When Mr Rankine arrived, Patrick got in while clutching two holdalls.

He was also wearing a cap, sunglasses and had his chin covered with a scarf.

Patrick – still claiming to be foreign – gave directions, but they ended up at a dead end in Kirkcaldy.

It was then the thug pulled out a black handgun and chillingly said: “You’ll be safe if you do what I say.”

He handed a note to Mr Rankine and insisted he hand it over to staff at the nearby Bank of Scotland in the town’s Carberry Road.

A shaken Mr Rankine got out his car taking one of the holdalls with him.

As he crossed the road, he pleaded with a passer-by: “I am a taxi driver – there is a boy in my taxi with a gun. It’s not a wind up.”

The cabbie walked on to the bank and told a staff member that he had been ordered to hand over the typed note.

It stated: “There is a transmitter in your bank and the lines are wired.

“We can hear you and know if you try to call police.

“There is a bomb strapped to this man...also in the bag. They can go off if transmitter detect signal or call.”

The note also said staff should not “panic” and that once money was received, Mr Rankine would return with a code to deactivate “the bombs”.

It concluded: “You have 4 mins to fill this bag”.

The High in Glasgow heard Mr Rankine was “clearly unsettled and agitated”.

Despite the warnings, police were alerted and the note was read over to them. A security alarm was also pressed.

One worker looked in the holdall and saw what she assumed was a bomb.

Anxious staff initially filled the bag with around £7000, but Mr Rankine said “they would not be happy with that” and asked for more.

The reluctant taxi driver was eventually escorted out the bank with a total of £9730 in cash.

But, as he nervously headed back to his car, he found Patrick had vanished.

Patrick was instead at a nearby store which he often used to buy water for his gym.

A shop worker then gave him a lift back to the fitness centre unaware what had just happened.

Armed officers, a bomb disposal team, police air support and a dog unit soon swooped on the bank.

As staff were evacuated to a nearby bingo hall, a radio controlled robot was used to retrieve the bag feared to contain an explosive device.

Prosecutor Mr Nicol said that found inside were two “mock up bombs”.

Describing them, the advocate depute told the court they consisted of grey tubes held together with masking tape.

He said there also appeared to be a circuit board on each which looked like the keypad of a mobile phone.

Mr Nicol added: “There were also wires, cotton wool and the devices were wrapped in chains.”

The court heard the money from the bank was also recovered.

Police later stepped up the hunt to catch who was behind the raid.

Patrick matched the description of the suspect. His mobile phone also placed him in the area at the time of the crime.

This led to his home, car and work being searched.

Paperwork was found at the gym which showed he had money troubles. A cap – similar to one described by Mr Rankine – was also discovered.

It later emerged that – on the day of the robbery – Patrick had been asking a lot of customers at the gym if they knew what had happened.

A colleague had also discovered an email in the drafts sections which had the words “there is a bomb”.

There was a second which had written: “bomb is strapped, put the money in the bag, not to panic”.

Patrick initially refuted allegations he was involved. However, he later told police where the firearm that had been used was ditched.

He also insisted “others had been involved”.

The court was told it turned out the gun used turned out to be an imitation.

The raid was said to have had a “major impact” on those affected.

Mr Rankine continues to suffer flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety and fear. Bank staff were also left “extremely shaken”.

Lord Bannatyne remanded Patrick, of Lochgelly, in custody and deferred sentencing for reports.

Speaking following Patrick’s court appearance Detective Inspector Stewart Andrew, of Kirkcaldy CID, said: “This was a terrifying experience for the taxi driver who was called to pick up a fare and subsequently forced to participate in a robbery.

“He must be commended for his bravery throughout, especially given the threat of an alleged explosive device, and his help during our investigation.

“Officers responded quickly to ensure the safety of local residents, utilising EOD resources to ensure there was no threat posed by the device, and conducted extensive enquiries in order to identify Patrick as the assailant.

“I also want to praise the bank staff for their courage, and thank the people of Kirkcaldy for their continued support of this investigation.”