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Serial bank robber escapes in taxis.

A building society robber has struck three times in five days in Birmingham - twice fleeing with more than pounds 1,000 from the same branch.

On each occasion the man used pre-booked taxis to make his getaways and identical tactics to threaten staff.

Detectives were yesterday questioning a man in connection with the raids - which may have involved firearms. They are reinvestigating other unsolved bank robberies.

All three incidents took place at branches of Birmingham Midshires.

The first happened in Walsall Road, Great Barr. A man wearing dark clothes and a woolly hat indicated he had a gun in his pocket. He passed a note to a cashier telling her he would "blow her away" if she did not stuff bank notes into a bag.

He fled with more than pounds 1,500 and was seen getting into a taxi.

Police believe the same man targeted the branch in Bearwood Road, Smethwick. He passed an identical note to a cashier but when she refused to co-operate he panicked and left.

On Tuesday, he returned to the Great Barr branch. Again, he used a note to make his demand and got away with pounds 1,000.

Pensioner thwarts trickster

A 72-year-old Birmingham woman was praised by police after she refused to let a trickster into her home.

A man claiming to be from a water company called at the pensioner's home in Malins Road, Harborne.

When she refused to let him in, he showed her identification. But she again declined entry and he left.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "She did exactly the right thing. If elderly people are in any doubt about people who knock on their doors they should not let them in."

Man's road rage agony

A motorist needed ten stitches after a road rage attack left him in hospital for three nights.

The driver, in his 30s, who comes from Handsworth, Birmingham, was travelling along Ravenhayes Road at Frankley Green in his Rover car. He overtook a white Ford Orion and shortly afterwards both vehicles stopped in Ravenhayes Road.

The Orion driver got out and kicked the other driver's door, and when the man got out began punching him.

The Rover driver was left with cuts to his head, swelling, a chipped tooth and bruised shoulder.

His attacker was described as white, about 25 to 30-years-old, of stocky build, with dark hair and a tattoo on his left arm.

At the time of the attack there was a woman and young child in the Orion.

Two charged over death

Two people appeared before Cannock magistrates yesterday in connection with the death of a Staffordshire man.

Mr Aaron Rutty, of Derwent House, Hawksmore Road, Stafford, was pronounced dead at Staffordshire General Hospital on Monday afternoon.

Tracey Cutting (20), of Derwent House, Hawksmore Road, Stafford, was charged with administering a noxious substance and was remanded in custody until July 8.

Terrence Gask (31), of Pitt Street, Stafford, was charged with possession of a Class A drug and was given unconditional bail.

Church battle ends

Conservationists have won their fight to stop a Solihull vicar from extending his historic church.

Councillors have thrown out controversial plans by the Rev George Baisley to add a two-storey extension to the centuries-old St John the Baptist Church in the picturesque village of Berkswell.

Mr Baisley's proposals had sparked protests from some of his parishioners and conservation experts who claimed the scheme would "disfigure a unique and ancient church".

Planners agreed and rejected the development on the grounds that it would ruin the setting and appearance of the Grade A church, parts of which date back more than 800 years to Norman times.

The refusal will come as a blow for Mr Baisley and his church wardens who badly needed the extension to help meet demand from a growing congregation.

Post Script

Birds, bats and bugs came under the microscopes of ecologists who have launched a pounds 10,000 wildlife study at Earlswood Lakes near Solihull to map out the area's ecology, so the findings can be used to further protect and enhance the chain of 19th Century reservoirs.

It will catalogue vegetation, unusual or rare plants, levels of bird breeding and creatures such as dragonflies .

The study has been commission by British Waterways which manages the lakes.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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