Police has praised two members of the public for their bravery after the pair chased down a bank robber who threatened to slit a customer’s throat.

Rashpal Singh raided Barclays Bank in Fletchamstead Highway, Coventry, on 15 February and held a knife at a 71-year-old woman’s throat as he demanded cash.

The 40-year-old passed staff a bag to fill with notes and warned he’d slit his hostage’s throat if the bag was not returned before he counted to 10.

Singh, from Elmsdale Avenue in Foleshill, ran off but was pursued by two men who caught up with him in Elm Tree Avenue where one rugby-tackled him to the ground.

Officers arrived minutes later to arrest him and a search of the area uncovered a knife and balaclava he’d discarded during the chase.

West Midlands Police detectives examined CCTV and found Singh was wearing the same clothes, including distinctive brown brogues, as a robber who’d struck the previous day at Coventry Building Society in Station Street East.

On that occasion another female customer was threatened at knifepoint before the raider made off with around £6,000.

Singh admitted the robberies but suggested he'd been pressured into carrying out the jobs by two unnamed men who were threatening him for money.

At Coventry Crown Court Singh was jailed for six years and nine months having pleaded guilty.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Chris Parry from West Midlands Police Force CID, said: “Singh put two women through shocking ordeals, with knives held to their necks, as he took them hostage in the banks.

“Thankfully no-one was physically hurt but we can’t underestimate the psychological impact of being caught up in an event like this.

“The two customers in the bank who gave chase showed tremendous courage and public spirit in detaining Singh and holding him down for a few minutes before police arrived on the scene. My thanks goes to them – and they should be rightly proud that their actions may well have saved other people from being victims.”