A dangerous career criminal arrested as he was poised to raid a bank in Wanstead has been jailed for life.

Wayne Colligan, 43, of Chafford Hundred in Essex, stole £68,000 ram-raiding a branch of Halifax in Welwyn Garden City in January last year.

He was then spotted four months later by undercover Flying Squad officers in a Citroen Berlingo car outside a branch of HSBC in High Street, Wanstead.

On arrest he was found to be wearing two layers of clothing, two pairs of gloves and was in possession of a loaded firearm, balaclava and a tartan laundry bag.

Today he admitted conspiracy to rob, possession of a firearm with intent, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate.

He was sentenced to life and will not be eligible for parole for seven years and eight months.

His accomplice, David Cope, 49, from Barking, was sentenced to four years at the Old Bailey today.

Detective Constable John Conner of the Flying Squad, said: “The two criminals involved in these robberies showed scant consideration for the frightened staff and customers, who genuinely feared for their lives when confronted with a firearm.”