|Posted on December 2, 2012 at 1:10 PM|
A NOTORIOUS armed robber who spent years behind bars last night told how he has finally turned his back on crime — and warned youngsters: “If you get involved in criminality, you WILL go to jail.”Jimmy Cryans raked in cash by holding up a string of banks and jewellery stores at gunpoint.
But the 58-year-old crook paid the price by being torn from his family when he was caught and sent to prison.
And the guilt-ridden ex-con — who is still on licence after his latest stretch behind bars — said: “I would tell young people that there is a price to pay. It is always the families who are left to do the real suffering. I now know mine did.”
Cryans, of East Kilbride, spoke out after finally giving up a criminal career spanning four decades.
During his years as an armed robber he worked with some of the biggest names in London’s underworld, including the notorious Wembley Gang and the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery.
But he refused to get involved with feared Glasgow hoods Arthur Thompson or Tam ‘The Licensee’ McGraw — because they were too violent.
Exploits ... Jimmy's book Cryans said: “Bank robbers will shoot if they have to. They will not stand any nonsense from anyone, but they are not interested in being known for their violence.
“They are professional — they get in, get the prize and get back out again.
“Professional bank robbers don’t like gangsters. I had no interest in Thompson or McGraw, they were far too ruthless.”
Cryans has lifted the lid on his life as a crook in a book based on his exploits called Once Upon A Crime.
And the dad-of-four is already penning a second, titled Secrets, Lies and Good Alibis.
Cryans was brought up in a “loving home” in Glasgow’s Parkhead but turned to crime when he was just a child and had his first brush with the law at eight-years-old.
He stole a set of dice from a department store and soon became hooked on the thrill of stealing.
By the time he was 11 he was casing shops, pubs and warehouses as possible targets for raids.
But just a year later he was nabbed again as he tried to break into a safe at a scrapyard, and sent to a detention centre.
When he was 14, Cryans’ family moved to Newbury, Berks, which he soon discovered was “ripe for plundering”. He said: “My mind was already made up. I was going to be a thief — and I was going to be the best possible thief.”
By day, he worked on building sites but at the weekend he scouted the area for new targets to raid.
And by the age of 17 he was earning £200 a week from bank fraud. But his scam was rumbled when he was arrested and pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court in November 1970 to fraud and forgery. He was released in August 1971.
On a visit back to Glasgow the following year, Cryans met Glasgow godfather Arthur Thompson for the first time in the Celtic Social Club.
He said: “Thompson walked in and everyone went silent. I said, ‘Who the f*** is that?’ because he looked like someone who worked for Murder Incorporated. I noticed that he had these cold, dark eyes — like shark eyes. I was captivated but I didn’t go in for his violence.”
Cryans went back to London and was introduced to some of the biggest names in the world of robbery, including Great Train Robbery architect Bruce Reynolds.
But he landed back in prison in 1976 after teaming up with a new partner to raid a jewellery store in Windsor, armed with a heavy wooden baton.
He said: “There was no need for firearms in the jewellery robbery as it should have been plain sailing. But my so-called accomplice started hitting the male shop assistant with the cosh.” Furious Cryans immediately hauled his partner out of the shop. He added: “There was no need for violence. He lost the plot and it wasn’t professional.”
A couple of weeks later, cops swarmed over a hotel where Cryans had holed up. He escaped by climbing down a drainpipe and fled back to Glasgow. He targeted three small banks — netting around £17,000 — before turning himself in and serving six years at Horfield Prison in Bristol. After being released, he eventually returned to Glasgow and hooked up with underworld thug Gordon Ross.
Cryans had planned to use Ross’s contacts in Northern Ireland to steal up to £4million worth of computer gear.
But before they could put the plans for the raid into action, Ross, 36, was knifed to death outside the Sheiling Bar in Shettleston, Glasgow, in 2002. Cryans said: “Gordon had connections in Belfast and said he could bring someone across. I was working on a microchip heist but I needed to get someone else on board to help hijack a truck. I was shattered by Gordon’s death, but my security had also been compromised. I didn’t want to take the risk. The job was scrapped.”
Despite being rocked by the Ross’s killing, Cryans still couldn’t give up his life of crime and swiped £6,000 from Shenanigans bar in East Kilbride. He armed himself with a pistol and a high voltage Taser gun, which he used on the manager during the raid. But he was snared by DNA on a pair of plastic specs he left at the scene.
Cryans admitted carrying out the raid and was sentenced to seven years at the High Court in Glasgow in 2008.
While he was behind bars he turned to writing and vowed to give up crime for good. Cryans said: “That was the turning point — and I found I was able to channel my energies into writing.
“This is what I now enjoy and hopefully people will pick up the books, be entertained and perhaps reflect a little on my mistakes.”
He could be a role model for our kids By GRAEME PEARSON, Former police chief
JIMMY Cryans could be the best possible role model for troubled kids — IF he means it.
If he is genuine, and doesn’t want these children to go through the sort of life he has had, then he should be supported and applauded.
Mr Cryans will be able to tell them what it like to be chased by the police, what it is like to sit the dock at the High Court.
Very often you get bravado of those who claim they can do time standing on their head. I was a police officer for 38 years and I never met ANYONE who could. They all hate it.
The penny eventually drops when they realise they are doing too much time in jail, they have not got a lot of money, and they hardly have any relationship with their family or children.
That is when they realise they’ve wasted a lifetime thinking they are pursuing glamour and money and wealth, only to find they are sitting in a cell with none of what they were chasing.
I’ve encountered a number of similar people. You really need to make a decision and have discipline to maintain it for the rest of your days.
If kids can learn that lesson before they start the trip it can save them an awful lot of damage and misery.
Addiction to offending is hard to end By IAN STEPHEN, Forensic psychologist
AGE is the issue for Jimmy Cryans when it comes to discouraging troubled kids away from a life of crime.
Okay, there may be some who will take on board what he is saying, but at the same point there are those who will be more cynical about it.
Some will obviously see themselves as too smart to end up in a similar situation.
They would see him as an old guy, irrespective of what he was like before.
I know some fairly mature offenders who have tried to help kids and they have had a limited amount of success. They have found it hard work.
I have certainly come across people like Jimmy who have managed to, quite successfully, turn their back on crime — as long as they get what they call the culture out of their heads.
It almost becomes an addiction for someone to commit these types of crimes.
A lot of people commit crimes when they are kids, but in their 30s they twig and decide they don’t want to be an old guy in jail or worse.
For some it can take a hell of a lot longer until they discover the life they have got in the prison is not that great after all.
Categories: Glasgow Robberies/Thefts/Frauds