Moment customer confronts would-be gunman during botched bank robbery

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Moment customer confronts would-be gunman during botched bank robbery
17th June 2014

This footage shows the moment a have-a-go hero wrestled with a potential armed robber after realising his gun was fake. 

James Rowley has been awarded a national police bravery award after challenging the would-be robber during a botched bank heist in Croydon. 

Andrew Fernandez, of no fixed abode, has been sentence to life imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court having admitted two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery yesterday. 

The 47-year-old was also handed eight years for three counts of possession of an imitation firearm to run concurrently. 

At about 2.30pm on November 27 Fernandez entered the Lloyds bank branch in Brighton Road, Coulsdon wearing a motorcycle helmet.

He approached the cashier before demanding she hand over cash while threatening her with what appeared to be a hand gun.

But have-a-go hero Mr Rowley confronted Fernandez after spotting the gun was a fake before the offender fled.

Fernandez attempted to make a getaway on a push-bike, but was followed out of the bank by Mr. Rowley. 

With the assistance of his friend, who was waiting in his van nearby, they were able to catch Fernandez and detain him until police arrived a short while later.

Mr. Rowley told officers how he had seen Fernandez discard an object into a nearby building site and it was there that officers recovered the imitation firearm he had used. 

Fernandez was initially charged on 28 November, 2013 with attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.

But when detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad carried out further enquiries, they discovered two, almost identical, robberies that had occurred earlier in the year.

The first robbery took place on July 12, 2013 in The Broadway, Mill Hill, Barnet. The second robbery took place on September 27 in Garston Park Parade, Watford, Hertfordshire.

Fernandez was subsequently charged with two additional counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an imitation firearm in relation to these incidents.

Detective Sergeant David Barnfather, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said:“The bravery of James Rowley was truly remarkable in confronting what was for all intents and purposes, an armed and extremely dangerous criminal. 

“Mr. Rowley’s courage and sense of civic duty are to be applauded and thanks to him Fernandez is behind bars.”

Mr Rowley was presented with a Commendation for his actions by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley on Friday 21 March and will also be awarded a Police Public Bravery Award at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) annual awards ceremony to be held on Thursday.

At Kingston Crown Court today Mr Rowley also received £1,200 from the sheriff's fund for his bravery 

James Rowley said: "When I saw him enter the bank waving the gun around, making demands I just acted on instinct. 

“I thought that the gun wasn't real and therefore I knew I had to act. At the time I didn't think it was brave I thought it was my duty to get involved ignoring it was not the answer. 

“I told him to leave and then he tried to escape I immediately thought no he is not going to get away with this so chased him with the help of my friend, holding him down until the officers came along. 

“What's happened since then with receiving an Assistant Commissioner's commendation and now being awarded a police bravery award , well I am humbled." 

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