MANCHESTER, NH – A 66-year-old accused bank robber suffered two broken legs and had chunks of flesh ripped from his legs when he was tackled Wednesday by officers and a police dog, according to his defense attorney.
George England, who was living at the homeless shelter at 199 Manchester St. on Wednesday when the Elm Street Citizens Bank was robbed on Wednesday, remains hospitalized at Catholic Medical Center. On Friday, a bail hearing was held for England in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District. England listened in via telephone from the hospital while attorneys appeared via WebEx.
Taken in the robbery was $17.
Assistant Hillsborough Attorney Mark Ryder asked Judge David Anderson to order England preventatively detained, that is held without bail because, Ryder said, England is a danger to the public. He said while England did not have a gun, he nevertheless placed the teller in fear for his life.
He said England entered Citizens Bank about 4 p.m., approached the teller and demanded cash, indicating he had a gun.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” the teller asked him after telling England he didn’t have a lot of money.
England, Ryder said, reached behind his back as if he were going to pull out a gun. The teller gave him $17 and England fled, running into a fitness center. Police, along with a K-9 unit, arrived. Officers yelled for England to come out. When he didn’t, they went in after him.
“He put up something of a fight,” Ryder said.
England told the judge he suffered two broken legs when he was tackled by police. Public Defender Sarah Rothman said England has met twice with a surgeon because he suffered a broken fibula (calfbone) and tibia (shinbone). She said he described the dog bites he suffered as chunks of flesh missing from his legs.
“It is a bit of a mauling from the dog,” she said.
She asked the judge to release England on personal recognizance bail, with strict conditions, because of England’s medical condition. She questioned whether the jail has the ability to provide the medical care England needs.
She argued that his age, along with the risk of running an infection from his wounds, puts him at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 at the Valley Street jail which is struggling to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious virus.
Rothman said as a teenager, England suffered a perforated ulcer resulting in half his stomach being removed. He has undergone 16 surgeries since and suffers periodically from blockages, had both his appendix and gall bladder removed, is hypo-glycemic and must abide by a strict diet and suffers from substance abuse disorder.
She said he recently completed a residential treatment program for substance abuse disorder but when completed he couldn’t find housing and continues to struggle with his addiction.
She asked the court to release him to Granite Recovery which has a 28-day program and includes partial hospitalization. The difference, she said, is when completed participants are placed in sober housing that is staffed 24-hours-a-day.
Rothman noted that England is charged with a serious crime but she equated the robbery to a shoplifting since England did not have a gun. “The only person who was injured was Mr. England,” she said. “He was seriously injured.”
Judge Anderson said the court sees people every day with substance abuse issues who are charged with shoplifting. He said, however, a bank robbery is a particularly dangerous offense. England, he pointed out, was convicted of two other robberies.
The prosecutor said England has an extensive criminal record dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of the robberies was in 2012 of another Elm Street bank.
The judge said he presumes once England is treated for his injuries that he will require extensive physical therapy. He questioned whether the hospital would release him to a rehabilitative hospital that could also address his substance abuse issues.
Judge Anderson said, for now, he was ordering England to be preventatively detained but would consider changing that if both the public’s safety and England’s health issues can be addressed.