You’ll all have heard that phrase about God rewarding genuine effort. Sad to relate in the case of Ken Dodds* of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, his chosen deity was looking the other way, or asleep at the wheel.

Mr Dodds attempted to knock over a café, Café Pronto, in his home town. He was unsuccessful, but he is made of stern stuff, and tried it on in a newsagent’s shop. That didn’t work either, so he hightailed it. Sort of.

There are several unsettling aspects to this. Firstly, he appeared to be armed with a Colt 44. That’s a big gun to be looking down the wrong end of when you don’t know it’s a replica. My mate Mr Whippy made a good living, not as a publican, as claimed at his funeral, but knocking over banks and building societies. I’m not condoning that at all, but he would have attested that the very sight of a shooter can spook the herd.

Staff in both the café and the newsagent toughed it out, and Mr Dodds made his escape, after a fashion. He didn’t do a runner, since he’s 69 years old and cannot walk without a stick. That’s going to handicap you in a chase down back alleys with the rozzers breathing down your neck.

Bizarrely, he then waited for a bus at a nearby bus stop. As you do when you’re making a getaway. No point burning petrol when you can use your OAP travel pass. It was at the bus stop that the cops, having been called by staff, found him, and ‘officers wrestled him to the ground.’ I thought at first this might be an overreaction on somebody who is classified geriatric, but if it’s suspected that you’re packing heat, you pretty well get what’s coming to you.

The judge, Christopher Prince, has ordered fresh victim statements** to be prepared before he sentences Mr Dodds, who was bailed and hobbled out of court under his own steam with the aid of his trusty walking stick.

A little while ago, a blind man’ with a white stick and everything, was brought up in front of the beak for his part in a bank robbery that went wrong. Just as well really. He was the getaway driver.

*No relation, for those of a Brit persuasion.

**I’d suggest some report on Mr Dodds’s mental status too.