Pensioner beats up armed robber

August 6, 2010 | by | 1 Comment

A robber lost more than his shirt when he attempted to steal £thousands from a betting shop at knifepoint after he was beaten up by a gang of punters – including a 75-year-old man.

Dramatic CCTV footage shows the group of have-a-go heroes pounce on the robber as he attempted to flee the bookies with handfuls of cash.

The video shows the moment gambling addict Darren Burke, 39, went berserk inside a branch of Ladbrokes in Bath, Somerset.

He pulled a knife on cashier Rachel Smith after frittering away the last of his money on the shop’s gaming machines.

But after snatching £thousands from the till, Burke was tackled by betting shop manager Lee Heard and three brave members of the public – including 75-year-old Peter Greensides.

They pelted Burke with chairs before he was hauled to the floor as he tried to struggle out of the bookies on Westgate Street, on June 24 this year.

Burke was jailed for fours years for the foiled attack after he admitted a single charge of robbery at Bristol Crown Court.

Judge William Hart awarded cash to the have-a-go heroes and praised their actions.

Mark Hollier, prosecuting, said: ”He demanded money at knifepoint. She screamed and was frightened and ran for the door.

”Mr Heard came in and Ms Smith retreated to a pub a few doors away. Burke had vaulted the counter and seized £3,200 from the till and was trying to escape.”

He told how Burke, a chef no fixed abode, was halted by the ”brave and public-spirited” manager and three members of the public.

The court heard Burke picked up a bar stool to try to fight people off, but then 75-year-old customer Peter Greensides picked up another stool and launched it at him.

Betting shop manager Mr Heard then grabbed Burke and, with the help of customer William Gale and Andrew Crickmore, wrestled him to the floor.

CCTV footage shows Mr Heard shaking hands with his brave customers – and hugging hero pensioner Mr Greensides.

Nicholas O’Brien, defending, said his client was a ”compulsive gambler” who had not intended to use the knife but had it to intimidate people.

Jailing Burke for four years, Judge William Hart, said: ”Your plan was thwarted by the brave and public-spirited actions of a number of people present.

”This was a very dangerous and frightening incident, particularly for the lady concerned, and also for others present.”

Judge Hart awarded Mr Heard and Mr Greensides £500 each and awarded Mr Gale and Mr Crickmore £250 each.

Mr Greensides, from Odd Down, near Bath, said: ”I was minding my own business when I heard one of the staff screaming.

”I thought they were messing around, but when I went over I saw a man with a knife emptying the till. He then ran towards the door with the money.

”Lee came in and tried to stop the man from leaving. He didn’t see that he had a knife.

”I had to help Lee and tackled the man to the floor. I then threw the knife across the floor, and Lee and I held the man down until the police arrived.”

Ladbrokes has since taken Mr Greenside out for a meal and given him a £100 bet to say thank you, but he modestly played down the hero and said he simply acted on instinct.

He added: ”I do not think I am a hero, adrenalin just kicked in. I didn’t want Lee to get hurt and knew I had to help him.

”I felt a bit shaken up afterwards and had bruised my knees and back.”

Shop manager Rich Brown said: ”Pete is a hero for stepping in and helping the staff. We wanted to do something to thank him.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. Jon Smith. says:

    The old bloke did nothing. None of them did, except the manager, Mr Heard. I saw it all. Crazy ‘ rear-naked choke!’. Text book. Royce Gracie would’ve been proud.

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