A HOODED raider who pointed a gun at a terrified shopkeeper before being wrestled to the ground by a customer has been jailed for four years.
John Buckley stormed into News 2000 general dealers at Roker Avenue, Sunderland, with a convincing imitation pistol, demanded cash and warned terrified shopworker Rasaratnam Rahulan: “I will blow your head clean off.”
But the drunken 32-year-old got nothing after the shopkeeper disarmed him and customer Kevin Bayliss, a former soldier with a knowledge of weapons, realised the gun could be fake and wrestled him to the ground.
A judge yesterday recognised Mr Bayliss’ bravery as “above and beyond” his duty as a citizen and jailed Buckley for four years.
The whole shocking incident was captured on CCTV, which was played at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.
The footage shows Buckley trying to cover his face with his hood before raising the weapon in both hands.
Mr Rahulan, 33, can be seen bravely challenging Buckley, who was hurling racist abuse, and grabbing the weapon from behind the counter before Mr Bayliss pinned Buckley to the floor until the police arrived.
Prosecutor Diane Spence told the court: “Mr Rahulan described he was 50-50 if the gun was real or not but quite clearly he was extremely upset and also upset by the racist comments made during the incident.”
Buckley, of no fixed address, admitted attempted robbery and having an imitation firearm at the time of the offence.
Judge James Goss said Mr Bayliss should be awarded £200 for his bravery that day.
The judge said: “He acted above and beyond the duty of a lawful citizen.”
Robert Newcombe, defending, said: “He has asked me to apologise profusely to Mr Rahulan, Mr Bayliss and the shop owner for his behaviour on that day.”
Mr Bayliss, 43, formerly of Sunderland, and now of Pontardawe, near Swansea Valley, South Wales, said: “I was trying to get some cash out the legal way from the ATM machine – when the guy came in, then all of this started unfolding at the side of me.
“It seemed very surreal at the time. It was only when the shopkeeper went to grab the gun that I realised that there was something really serious happening.
“I didn’t know it wasn’t a real gun, but that seemed immaterial at the time. He could have had a gun or a knife or a friend waiting in the shop that wasn’t in my eyeshot but my instincts took over and I just knew I needed to control the situation so no-one got hurt.
“I wasn’t scared really I was just doing what I would expect someone else to do if I was in that situation.”