THE pensioner who fought off a gang of armed robbers with her handbag has said she would do exactly the same again if it was needed.
Pictures of retired market trader Ann Timson were streamed across the world yesterday, after she was captured on video intervening in an armed robbery at Michael Jones Jewellers in Gold Street yesterday morning.
Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle & Echo she said: “I was standing talking with a woman when I heard a commotion and I looked across and saw six young men on scooters.
“At first I thought one of them was being set upon by three others. I was not going to stand by and watch somebody take a beating or worse so I tried to intervene.
“What concerned me was that too many people just stood around watching as if they were in shock and nobody was doing anything.
“When I got closer to them I realised it was a robbery and then I was even more angry that they felt they could get away with what they were doing in broad daylight. One of the gang shot off down Gold Street on a scooter and nearly hit a woman and baby in her buggy.
“I clobbered him with my shopping but he got away.
“The rest of them were still trying to smash and grab at the jewellery.
“I didn’t know what happened next but I just kept swinging my bag.
“They then tried to escape, I landed several blows against one lad on the back of a bike and brought him to the ground.
“He raised a hammer to me so I just kept hitting out and shouting and shouting for others to help and bring them down.
“Several people then came to help. “It was over in what seems like seconds.”
Mrs Timson added she was pleased four people had been arrested in connection with the robbery.
“I’m not a hero and it was maybe foolish of me to get involved but somebody had to do something.
Now I just want to be left in peace and I feel very uncomfortable with all the press and media attention.
“I’m a private person and do not want any press attention and I hope that the media will respect my wishes.”
The have-a-go-hero said she would not be giving any further interviews but in a statement released this afternoon she added: “Passers by didn’t come to my assistance to begin with. I was amazed at that, but they all seemed mesmerised.
“A lot were standing there filming or taking photos and I wonder whether more people didn’t intervene because they thought the raid was being mocked up.
“In the cold light of day, I know I put myself in danger. But I probably would do the same again.
“My red coat has now been packed away for the winter and my red hair is being dyed green. And my black shopping bag is having a rest today, to give it time to recover from its bruises.”
Detectives were today given a further 12 hours to interview the four men who have been arrested in connection with the bungled robbery, and they were charged with robbery and motor vehicle offences this afternoon.
The four, all from London, will appear before magistrates in Northampton tomorrow.
The gang, who were wearing helmets and arrived on three mopeds, attempted to smash their way through a reinforced window, containing Rolex watches, using sledgehammers while shocked staff frantically tried to raise the alarm inside.
They finally managed to activate the security shutters, shutting out the robbers.
The four men, aged 18, 22, 25 and 39, were arrested shortly after the incident. One was arrested after being followed by a member of the public and the other two were arrested after images of the incident were sent to officers’ BlackBerrys.
Two offenders are still outstanding and detectives investigating the case are appealing for the public’s help in tracing them.
Detective Inspector Ally White, from the Northampton Criminal Investigation Department, said: “We would like to thank all of the members of the public who assisted in the incident in Gold Street yesterday. However, we would always advise the public to call the police if they witness a crime, rather than risking their own safety by getting involved themselves.”
Inspector White added: “Officers attended the scene shortly after 9.30am yesterday after receiving calls to a robbery in progress. One man, aged 18, was arrested at the scene. A second man was arrested a short time later following the assistance of another member of the public.
“The final two men were arrested by officers conducting a search of the area. All four had been arrested by 10.30am.”
Police are still appealing for people’s help in identifying any of the offenders involved in this incident and also anyone who may have seen two men making off from the town centre on a motorbike at around 9.35am yesterday.
The whole astonishing incident was captured on camera by a freelance cameraman, Ben Jacobson, who was filming an NHS documentary outside All Saints Church.
The film shows members of the public wrestling one of the robbers, who fell as he tried to flee, and pinning him down until police arrived.
Mr Jacobsen said: “We were just in town filming some shots of Northampton for a video for Changing Minds, the NHS mental health organisation.
“The shop was behind me and when it happened I just went into cameraman mode.
“All I was thinking was getting it framed, getting it in focus, so when the police asked me later about what happened I had to look at the video to remember it. It was amazing, it was just one of those bizarre things.”
The robbers, who fled empty handed, left behind three sledgehammers, bolt cutters and a green moped with learner plates on, which had been driven by one of the robbers.
Manager of Michael Jones Jewellers, Luke Allebone, said: “I was inside at the time.
“We saw a chap come to the window, he had a motorcycle helmet on and he had a large hammer and he just started bashing away at the Rolex window. We could hear more of them hitting the windows so we put the shutters down and our security procedures started.”
Mr Allebone said staff had been shocked by the nature of the attack, but said he was pleased the shop’s security measures had worked. He added: “It was so quick there was very little time to do anything.
“But I am happy because it looks like we got what we wanted from the security. It is just annoying that we have to clear up the mess.”
Tributes have been paid to Ann from across the world throughout the day, with several calls for her bravery to be recognised.
Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “I have today met with Ann and, on behalf of the Force, thanked her for what she did.
“She demonstrated true community spirit in wanting to help others but we should acknowledge that this did involve a clear element of risk.”
Full astonishing video footage of the attempted robbery can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECTKt6f0IEo
Don’t miss Wednesday’s Chron for more on the story.