The family of an armed robber who collapsed and died after being disarmed and pinned down by customers in a betting shop has apologised for his terrifying but botched attempt to raid the bookies.
Alan Levers, 50, was thought to have been wielding an imitation gun and was also believed to have been wearing a gas mask when he stormed into the Ladbrokes branch on Crownhill Road in Plymouth shortly before 7pm on Friday night.
Customers disarmed the man and held him on the floor while others raised the alarm, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
Police arrested Levers, who was already unconscious, upon arrival, but he was declared dead at the scene around 20 minutes later by paramedics.
The 50-year-old's loved-ones have also told of their devastation over the death of a man who, despite being a career criminal, was a father-of-four who had been trying to turn his life around.
Police were this morning continuing to investigate the robbery.
His family told how they were seeking answers over their loss – but apologised to anyone left traumatised by the robber's actions. Nephew Stephen Levers, speaking on behalf of the family, said: "There is a lot of upset – what he did has upset people and we are sorry for that, believe me as a family we are truly sorry.
"But we also lost our uncle which is tragic.
"For the last two years he really tried and that's the shock of it, because he really did try."
Liverpool FC fan Alan was born and bred in Honicknowle and went to Honicknowle School.
He was a steel fixer by trade but he had problems with drugs and had served time in prison for similar crimes.
However, Stephen said his uncle had started to turn his life around.
"He had done some bad things in his life," the 33-year-old said. "In the last two years he's changed – he's been brilliant."
Four customers are thought to have been inside the bookmakers at the time of the incident.
Two are believed to have tackled Levers to the ground, disarming him before alerting police.
Officers swooped on the building, at the junction with Parade Road, and quickly cordoned off the area.
Levers is understood to have been found not to be breathing as officers were in the process of arresting him.
They attempted CPR and an ambulance was called, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Scenes of crime officers remained at the scene into the night as a full investigation into the incident was launched.
An HM Coroner van was seen leaving the scene shortly before 11pm.
Forensics experts wearing protective clothing worked inside the building, which remained taped off into the early hours.
The betting shop was due to re-open this morning.