AN armed robber who held up a travel money shop in Warrington with a fake gun also threatened to blow up London department store Harrods.
David James Williamson, aged 50, from Scotland, has been jailed for 10 years for a string of robbery plots using an imitation firearm.
Kingston Crown Court heard on Wednesday how the wannabe terrorist went to a bureau de change counter in the Golden Square and asked for £15,000 worth of euros, on October 27, 2012.
When staff challenged him he brandished the pistol, demanding £4,000 in cash, and fleeing with the money.
The crime spree started two weeks earlier, when Williamson made four phone calls warning bombs had been planted across central London, and on the rail network.
Hours later he marched into Harrods and left a note for employees stating a bomb had been left in the store, causing a surge of panic.
He embarked on the string of armed robberies on October 25, 2012.
Williamson entering a Maidstone branch of The Money Shop at 3pm, attempting to swindle money.
After being challenged by staff, he returned a short while later, pointing a black handgun at workers.
They managed to activate an emergency alarm, meaning he left empty handed.
Later that day Williamson travelled to London and threatened a lone female receptionist at The Delmere Hotel in Hyde Park.
The court heard the woman was in ‘fear for her life’ when he again brandished the imitation gun, and handed over the contents of the till.
After leaving the bureau de change in the Golden Square, the defendant was tracked on CCTV, recorded catching a bus from the town centre.
He was arrested when the bus stopped in Runcorn town centre and charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
Williamson was linked to the robberies in London by fingerprints and was arrested again from HMP Altcourse on March 27 last year by Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism unit.
He was found guilty by jury on January 30.
Offences included two counts of robbery; two counts of possession of an imitation firearm; one count of possession of an imitation firearm to cause fear and violence; and five counts of communicating false information causing a bomb hoax.
Following the case, DC Neil Radley, from Cheshire Police, said: "Williamson armed himself and threatened staff at a shop in Warrington - leaving them fearing for their lives.
“This was a terrifying experience for all those involved.
“He showed complete disregard not only for the law but also for the safety and well being of the victims.
"I would like to thank everyone who came forward and supported the case and I hope that the successful conclusion will help to bring about a degree of closure for them.
“Robbery is a serious enough crime in itself but when the offender commits that crime armed with a weapon it adds to the impact of it.”
Det Con Joseph Agyei, from the MPS counter terrorism unit, said: "These were terrifying attacks committed in broad daylight and caused all the victims involved to fear for their lives.
“Williamson showed an utter disregard for the victims he targeted in public places.
“I would like to pay tribute to victims and witnesses who supported police with the prosecution in the face of many challenges.
“I′d also like to thank our colleagues in Cheshire with whom we established an excellent working relationship that helped bring Williamson to justice."