Two heroic men who intervened during an attempted robbery of a Co-Op store in Northampton have received bravery awards from the High Sheriff.
Gary Robins, aged 58, and James Bowey, aged 38, managed to prevent four robbers from stealing thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes after they broke into the supermarket in Fieldmill Road, Bellinge, in June 2013.
Mr Robins, who was the manager of the Co-Op, was alerted to the robbery after he heard the scream of a female member of staff on the front counter. She had been knocked over when the thieves broke in by removing the front door. After running from the back of the store, Mr Robins tackled two of the robbers who had brought recycling crates to fill with stolen cigarettes.
Mr Robins said: “I grabbed the front door and threw it at them and it knocked them flying. I got punched a couple of times and then they ran off but they did not take one packet of cigarettes. You are not supposed to get involved but they caught me on a bad day.”
After the robbers had ran out of the front of the store, they were spotted by Mr Bowey, an AA breakdown driver, who was working on a vehicle in the car park.
Mr Bowey called the police and then parked his van in front of the robbers’ getaway car to prevent them escaping.
The robbers did eventually manage to escape after they reversed away from the van but, one of the robbers was later identified after a fingerprint was found on a drinks bottle left in the car, which was found abandoned in Greatmeadow.
Gerard Bell, aged 36, of Drayton Place, Irthlingborough, was sentenced to eight years in prison in November 2014, after being found guilty of two charges of handling stolen goods and attempted robbery. In her citation read out during a presentation ceremony at Northampton Crown Court yesterday, High Sheriff Anne Burnett said the two men had shown “outstanding courage”.
She said: “They each without concern for their own safety attempted to frustrate the robbers in their aims and assist in their detention.
“The robbers must have thought they were incredibly unlucky to find themselves confronted by two such publicly spirited brave men.”