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Alan Pithman awarded after foiling robber wielding baseball bat

By Paul Hooper

Alan Pithman faced a masked raider brandishing a knife and a baseball bat who attacked the BP garage at Seabrook in April.

Would-be robber Daniel O’Leary snarled at Mr Pithman to hand over money or he would be stabbed.

Alan Pithman who has been given a High Sheriff award

Alan Pithman who has been given a High Sheriff award

But the 57-year-old retorted: “Well you are going to have to stab me then because I am not opening the till.”

In an act of tremendous bravery, he grabbed the robber’s mask and pulled it off his head – despite being hit over the head with a baseball bat.

Now Mr Pithman has received an award for his bravery from Kathrin Smallwood, Kent’s High Sheriff, at a ceremony at Canterbury Crown Court.

Judge Adele Williams, in her citation, wrote: “Despite being hit over the head and injured, what he did was enough to make the robber run away.

“Mr Pithman dialled 999 and the police then arrived very quickly.”

“The thug, Daniel O’Leary, was later arrested and pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and illegally having an offensive weapon.”

The judge added: “He showed great courage and presence of mind and deserves his award.”

The BP station on Seabrook Road, Hythe, where a staff member was attacked

The BP station on Seabrook Road, Hythe, where a staff member was attacked

Prosecutor Claire Cooper had told the judge at the sentencing hearing, in which O’Leary was jailed for seven years, how Mr Pithman had been working just after midnight when the 28-year-old robber attempted his hold-up.

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 left behind.

Another man who is believed to have been involved has never been caught.

DC Carl Evans said after the hearing: “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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