An Australian man charged with robbing a US bank of $140,000 has told a court his actions were justified because he gave much of the money to people made homeless due to bank repossessions.
Corey Donaldson, 39, who is representing himself, told the jury he was using the banks to bailout the poor after becoming homeless himself last year and meeting people on the streets.
In an emotional opening statement Donaldson said: “I must say, I feel like a frightened child.
“I came up with the idea that since the banks had been bailed out, and the people had not, I was going to confiscate money from US Bank in Jackson, Wyoming, and redistribute it to the poor and homeless in America and that’s what I did,” he said.
Donaldson, who has lived in the US for 20 years, is accused of claiming explosives were planted around the bank while carrying out the robbery on New Year’s Eve.
Jared Thomas Williams, branch manager of the bank, said Donaldson met him in his office on the day of the robbery.
He added that he told him members of a Mexican cartel were outside the building and were prepared to blow it up if Mr Williams did not give him $2m (£1.29m) in cash.
“There were four military-grade explosives that had been buried in the snow, and they were prepared to detonate them,” Mr Williams said Donaldson told him.
Mr Williams said he loaded $140,000 (£90,000) – nearly all the cash in the bank – into a duffel bag before giving it to Donaldson.
Donaldson was arrested in Utah after he was identified on surveillance cameras in the bank.
A close friend of his, Kevin Day, had called police after he arrived at his home late one night and told him where to find $8,000 (£5,150).
Mr Day testified that he had been close friends with Donaldson for 16 years, adding he became emotional when he received the money as it came at a good time.
Investigators say they they recovered about $30,000 (£19,309) after Donaldson’s arrest. Donaldson told an FBI agent shortly after that he had intended to surrender.
The trial is expected to last a week.
The robber captured on CCTV
Source: Sky News