Published: 00:01, 14 March 2017
A courageous teenager has described the terrifying moment he single-handedly tackled a gunman in Herne Bay town centre.
Whitstable factory worker Joshua Dix was returning home after a night out with friends when he saw Charles Thomson, 57, pointing the weapon at him in Mortimer Street.
The 19-year-old says he feared for his life because the firearm – a replica semi-automatic pistol – was incredibly realistic.
“We did not take any notice to begin with, but all of a sudden all of my mates were legging it and this bloke was pointing a gun at us,” he told our sister paper the Whitstable Gazette.
“Then I realised what was happening, turned around and was screaming my girlfriend’s name.
“As soon as I couldn’t find her, I thought I had to deal with the situation.
“I suddenly felt frightened and panicked, my heart started thumping and I genuinely thought he was going to kill me.”
Thomson, who was also carrying three knives, was spotted about 20ft away from Joshua shortly before midnight, wearing an Indiana Jones-style hat and a large coat.
Joshua – who works at Hellyar Plastics in Tyler Way, Swalecliffe – disarmed Thomson as he started walking towards Vivid nightclub.
“As he walked off, I told my mate Oscar to come with me as I was going to take the gun off him,” the former Herne Bay High pupil said.
“He was facing away from me and went to turn, but as he did I approached him quickly and snatched the gun out of his hand.
“It was so realistic. As far as I was concerned it was a live firearm – it had the serial number on it and everything.”
Thomson, who pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court to possessing a fake firearm intending to frighten Joshua , later told police he had been on his way to a pub to show the weapon to a friend.
Prosecutor Donna East told the judge how Thomson, of Bay Mews, Herne Bay, had got drunk before the incident in January and armed himself with the replica pistol and three knives.
“I tried to deal with the situation logically,” said Joshua, who recalls Thomson making childish shooting noises.
“I yelled at him to keep the gun away from me and drop it - I was screaming directions for him to drop it.
“Because I felt overwhelmed I wanted to get some control back and I was yelling, not out of anger, but out of fear of what he would do.”
"All of a sudden all of my mates were legging it and this bloke was pointing a gun at us" - Joshua Dix
Police discovered Thomson was also carrying other weapons, including a hunter’s knife, and when they searched his home found more replica firearms, including short-barrel guns, a “zombieslayer” Samurai sword, gas canisters and pellets.
He appeared by prison video link to admit four charges, including three of possessing knives in public.
The court heard Thomson had “a fascination with toy weapons” and had been feeling depressed because his ex-wife had been diagnosed with cancer.
Jailing him for 20 months, the judge, Recorder Stuart Trimmer QC, said some may have thought Joshua’s decision to “take you on” was “foolhardy”, but he thought it was commendable.
Joshua, of Gordon Road, said: “Everyone should have the same attitude and want to help people out.”
More by this authorGazette reporter