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Abbotsford bank robber who was tackled by customers pleads guilty

Neil Robert Simpson’s sentencing hearing on 2 charges scheduled for Jan. 30
Police arrested Neil Robert Simpson on June 2, 2020 after he was tackled by customers during a robbery at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)

A bank robber who was thwarted by customers in Abbotsford in June 2021 has pleaded guilty to two charges.

Neil Robert Simpson, 48, pleaded guilty Dec. 2 in Abbotsford provincial court to pointing a firearm and robbery (reduced from the initial charge of robbery with a firearm).

A third charge that was also still before the courts – unlawful confinement – is expected to be stayed at sentencing, as are five charges of possession of a firearm contrary to an order. Simpson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

The incident took place June 2, 2021 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way.

On that day, Simpson walked into the bank carrying a shotgun and ordered everyone to lie on the ground, according to police.

Simpson then threw bags onto the counter and demanded money, but was quickly tackled to the ground by four customers.

Officers arrived on scene and arrested Simpson. The shotgun was confirmed to be real.

RELATED: 4 customers tackle armed bank robber in Abbotsford

Simpson has a long criminal record, including being the subject of a police manhunt on Dec. 30, 2000 after fleeing custody with the help of two armed accomplices.

Simpson was being escorted back to prison – while serving time for possession of stolen property and prohibited weapons – after being treated for wounds at a Surrey hospital.

A news article stated that Simpson was taken to hospital after being slashed, but it was later discovered that the wounds were self-inflicted.

As the two unarmed guards and a handcuffed-and-shackled Simpson were leaving, they were approached by a man and a woman armed with a shotgun. They demanded that Simpson be released, and Simpson then got into the back of a stolen vehicle, which sped away.

Simpson later received a six-month conditional sentence and 12 months’ probation for escaping from lawful custody.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Simpson in December 2013 after failing to return to a designated home in Prince George.

RELATED: ‘I’m not going to die today’: Abbotsford bank robbery hero speaks out

Simpson was again in the news in 2017 after being charged with holding up a Prince George bank four years earlier. The charges were thrown out when the judge ruled that the case had taken too long to prosecute.

According to the provincial court database, Simpson has multiple prior convictions for offences such as drug possession, unauthorized possession of a firearm, assault with a weapon, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a stolen vehicle, robbery and using an imitation firearm.

Among the aliases used by Simpson are Speedy, Danika Simpson, Neil Nugget and Jason Plante, according to the database.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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