Published: 10:25, 02 August 2006
A HAVE-A-GO hero who was badly injured while trying to protect a Polish family from a terrifying attack has been commended by a judge and the High Sheriff of Kent.
Ken Graham went to Maidstone Crown Court to receive the framed tribute and a £500 reward.
The 47-year-old executive chauffeur sprang into action on February 14 last year when he heard cries for help at the Victorian house divided into flats in Hastings Road, Pembury.
Mr Graham found neighbours Roman and Magdalena Karas and their son Maciej under siege from thugs who had broken into their home at night.
Mr Karas and his son managed to detain two of the men, one of whom was Dallas Texas Liburd. Another man entered the flats to try to free Liburd.
There was a struggle and Mr Karas was hit on the back with a pipe. Mr Graham helped to push two of the intruders outside.
He retreated back inside and closed the door. But a bar was thrust several times through stained glass windows in the door.
Judge Michael Lawson, QC, said the first blow struck Mr Graham, who also works in care and medical support, on the eye and bridge of the nose.
"He didn’t flinch," said the judge. "He continued to hold the door. Mr Karas brought a fire extinguisher and Mr Graham used that to fire at the intruders.
"He called the police on his mobile phone and, happily, they responded quickly.
"Mr Graham suffered very severe damage to the lens of his eye and the socket. It had to be totally rebuilt. Not surprisingly, in the next few days his whole system went into severe shock."
Despite that, he made detailed notes of the sequence of events and gave descriptions of the attackers.
Last month, Liburd, 20, formerly of Pennis Yard, Pembury, now of Huddersfield, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years youth custody after admitting burglary.
Dean Skilton, 24, of Highfield Close, Pembury, was jailed for two-and-a-half years and his brother, Marc, 17, was given a community penalty. Both admitted affray.
Judge Lawson said Mr Graham’s actions showed that the vast majority of people were decent, brave and selfless.
He said of the Karas family: "They had come from Poland to look for what they described as a normal life and it shames us all that the father was to say: "I am surprised that such an incident could happen in the country of our dreams.’"
Mr Graham, he said, acted to prevent the situation deteriorating. "He truly deserves our admiration," he said. "The court, judges, police and public salute him today."
High Sheriff Amanda Cottrell told Mr Graham: "On behalf of the people of Kent, I would like to give you my gratitude for what you have done.
"I have heard for the first time this most extraordinary situation and you must have been very frightened. Very many congratulations."