A robber who used his fingers under his T-shirt to simulate a weapon failed miserably in his first attempt to scare a bank teller into giving him money.
The teller didn't properly read Chan Lap-keung's note demanding HK$50,000 and, thinking he was just trying to withdraw money from his account, asked for his passbook, a court heard yesterday.
But Chan, 49, was more successful on his next attempt, escaping with HK$10,500, Mr Justice Alan Wright was told.
The events were related by prosecutor Bernard Ryan in the Court of First Instance after Chan pleaded guilty to one charge of robbery and one of attempted robbery. He was jailed for four years and eight months.
Ryan said Chan made his first attempt at the Bank of China's Kwun Tong branch on November 30, 2010. He did not reply when the teller asked for his passbook and left empty-handed.
Ten minutes later, Chan went to a nearby branch of the Bank of Communications where the teller, frightened by his note - "Robbery, need fifty thousand dollars" - handed over HK$10,500.
Chan was intercepted by police for an unrelated minor offence 18 months later and admitted to the robbery. He told police he had "inserted his hand underneath his T-shirt to give an impression that he had some sort of weapon", Ryan said.
In mitigation, lawyer Fu Chong-sang said Chan had committed the offences because he was in debt. "In the present case, no weapon was shown."
Wright said bank robbery was "taken seriously by the court" and required a "substantial term of imprisonment".
However, in deciding the sentence he took into account the lack of a weapon and Chan's admission.