Hull Daily Mail
March 1, 2014
AN AXEMAN who tried to rob a bank in the middle of a busy Hull street to escape a rape trial has been jailed for ten years.
Lawrence Kwala, 23, was on bail for the suspected rape of a teenage girl when he tried to fund his flight from justice by holding up a NatWest bank in Holderness Road, east Hull, on Halloween last year.
He donned a balaclava and black gloves, armed himself with an axe, and marched into the bank at 4.15pm, where he repeatedly demanded £50,000. Kwala smashed the axe against a window, terrorising a woman working in the bank, Hull Crown Court heard.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want my ******* money,” Kwala said.
But he fled empty-handed when a member of the public said he had called police.
Still wearing his mask and gloves and carrying the axe, which Judge Mark Bury said may have allowed him to be mistaken for a Halloween reveller, Kwala then decided to try his luck at a newsagents – Newbridge News in New Bridge Road, east Hull.
The ordeal for the man behind the counter was even more disturbing, as Kwala raised the axe to the side of his head with the sharp edge towards him and demanded money.
The robber fled with a paltry £90, but his escape was thwarted when a member of the public gave chase and helped run him to ground.
As reported in the Mail, Richard Lunt, 48, of Summergangs Road, east Hull, followed Kwala while talking to police on his mobile phone and tried to wave to the police helicopter as the net closed.
Kwala was cornered by firearms officers and when challenged said: “A bullet isn’t going to stop me.”
He refused to speak to officers in interview but admitted robbery, attempted robbery and possessing an offensive weapon when he appeared in court.
A jury found Kwala not guilty of rape but he was convicted of sexual activity with a child and false imprisonment.
The court heard he had consensual sex with a girl when she was 14 and was then charged with rape and false imprisonment after having sex with her at his flat in Bathurst Street, west Hull, on February 2 last year.
Kwala had first plied the girl with vodka, and Judge Bury told him: “The reality is you made persistent advances towards her when she was under the influence of alcohol and you took her to your bed in the middle of the afternoon.
“She was drunk and, in her own words, ‘out of it’.”
Afterwards, the girl got dressed and wanted to go to her friend’s house, where her mother was expecting her, but Kwala was “not sexually satisfied” and began “a charade” of pretending to have lost his keys.
Police and a friend arrived but Kwala refused to let them in and the officers had to go back to their station for a device to force the door open.
It was thought the girl had been held in the flat for an hour and one of the officers who released her said: “It was quite disturbing to see her in that state.”
Kwala was jailed for a total of ten years and was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life. He was also barred from working with children.
After Kwala was jailed, Mr Lunt said: “I am very pleased with the sentence.
“He needs to be locked away and it is good to see justice has been done.”