A PENSIONER who threatened to blow up an East Lancashire bank has been jailed for three years.

Clifford Fleming, 65, from Clitheroe, dropped off a letter at Barclays Bank, King Street, Whalley, demanding they give him £150,000.

He told staff if they did not leave the cash in a bag at a specified place at a specified time, he would activate a bomb, which was already hidden.

Fleming, of Billington Gardens, also warned he would detonate the device if the workers contacted the police.

But when the police were contacted, they discovered it was a hoax and Fleming was arrested.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of blackmail.

Speaking after the hearing at Preston Crown Court, Whalley councillor Terry Hill said Fleming’s actions must have been terrifying for those working in the bank. He said: “This kind of thing is very rare for the Ribble Valley. These were most unusual circumstances and the guy was obviously pretty desperate.

“I am sure it was very scary for the staff. They would have been very worried and upset.

“It is good that it was all sorted out in the end without any damage to people or property.

“I am just pleased it has been dealt with now and Fleming has been given a significant sentence.”

Coun Kevin Horkin, chairman of the Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership, who also sits on the police forum for Lancashire, added: “With situations like this, the judicial system swings into action and takes any blackmail extremely seriously.

“In the times we live in with terrorism, I can understand why there is zero tolerance.

“A firm line has always got to be taken for anybody that would seek to intimidate and blackmail, especially when they are talking about planting bombs.”