Published: 17:00, 03 October 2016
A Hythe petrol pump attendant who fought off an armed robber has been given a bravery award.
Alan Pithman was working at the BP garage at Seabrook in April when he was confronted by the masked raider armed with a knife and a baseball bat.
The nasty robber shouted: “I am going to stab you” and demanded money, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
But the courageous worker refused to hand over the cash and despite being struck managed to grab the robber’s balaclava, forcing him to flee empty-handed.
Judge Adele Williams praised him for his courage – and awarded him a £300 High Sheriff’s Award.
She then jailed bungling raider Daniel O’Leary for seven years after he admitted attempted robbery and possessing a knife in public.
"It must have been a very distressing experience for him and we would never encourage people to step in as he did" - DC Carl Evans
Prosecutor Claire Cooper told how Mr Pithman had been working just after midnight on April 28 when the 28-year-old robber walked in.
She said O'Leary, who has no fixed address, was wearing a face mask and holding a knife and a baseball bat and demanded money.
“He told Mr Pithman: ‘I am going to stab you’. But the attendant bravely grabbed the mask before he was hit and the defendant ran off.”
The court heard that O’Leary, who has 40 previous convictions, was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs at the time.
He was traced after police recovered DNA from the balaclava he had left behind. Another man who is believed to have been involved has never been caught.
Judge Williams told him: “In my view this was a serious professional crime as you had armed yourself with two weapons.”
After sentencing, Detective Constable Carl Evans said: "We soon identified O’Leary as a suspect and DNA from his balaclava confirmed it was him."
He also paid tribute to Mr Pithman, adding: "It must have been a very distressing experience for him and we would never encourage people to step in as he did, yet his quick-thinking secured valuable DNA evidence."
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