Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Armed robber 'was career criminal'

Police at the scene of an attempted armed robbery at the Ladbrokes branch on Crownhill Road in Plymouth

An armed robber who collapsed and died after being disarmed by customers in a bookies was a "career criminal" who was trying to turn his life around, his family has said.

Alan Levers, 50, was believed to be wearing a gas mask and carrying an imitation gun when he stormed into the Ladbrokes branch on Crownhill Road in Plymouth, Devon, shortly before 7pm on Friday night.

Customers disarmed the man and held him on the floor while others raised the alarm, Devon and Cornwall Police said. Police arrested Levers, who was already unconscious, upon arrival, but he was declared dead at the scene around 20 minutes later by paramedics.

The gunman's nephew Peter Levers, 28, said his uncle had been trying to move on from his criminal past.

According to the BBC, he said: "We don't hold anybody responsible. He was a career criminal, but things were going all right for him for once. He was staying off the drugs, he had the whole family behind him. The last time I saw him was Thursday evening. He went out fishing and he came back with a big smile on his face."

Mr Levers was also reported to have said his uncle may have had a lung condition which restricted his breathing.

Plymouth police commander Chief Superintendent Andy Bickley praised the actions of the "brave" members of the public, who would not have known if the gun was a fake. He said the four men who were in the shop at the time of the attempted robbery have been helping police with their inquiries, and no arrests have been made.

"I can confirm that no one has been arrested in connection with this death, nor has anyone been questioned under caution as a suspect at this time," he said.

"I can share with you that the firearm has been initially examined by a police firearms officer and it appears to be an imitation pistol, though this still needs to be verified. I would like to add, however, that there would have been no way of knowing this at the time of the incident. The actions taken by members of the public in the shop were brave and showed a disregard for their own safety."

A post-mortem examination on Mr Levers has now taken place. Mr Bickley said Mr Levers' family are being supported by police and that their thoughts and condolences are with his family. The witnesses who were inside the betting shop at the time of the incident are also being offered full support by the police.

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