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Hero Stopped Armed Robber After Spotting Gun Was Fake

Tuesday 17th June 2014

A man has been commended for his bravery after he chased an armed robber from a bank after spotting the gun was a fake.

 Andrew Fernandez entered the branch of Lloyds at around 2.35pm on Wednesday, 27th November wearing a motorcycle helmet. The 47 year old went over to the cashier and demanded that she hand over cash to him while threatening her with what appeared to be a gun.

However, 34-year-old James Rowley, who was also inside the bank at the time, confronted Fernandez, after spotting that the gun was a fake and told him that he should leave.

Andrew FernandezFernandez continued to threaten the cashier so Mr. Rowley challenged Fernandez again, who then fled and attempted to use a push bike to get away.

Mr. Rowley and his friend, who was waiting in his van nearby, were able to catch Fernandez and detain him until police arrived.

Mr. Rowley told officers how he had seen Fernandez discard an object into a nearby building site and it was there that officers recovered the imitation firearm he had used.

Fernandez was initially charged on 28 November, 2013 with attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. However, when detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad carried out further enquiries into the case, they discovered two, almost identical, robberies that had occurred earlier in the year.

The first robbery took place on 12 July, 2013 in The Broadway, Mill Hill, Barnet. The second robbery took place on 27 September, 2013 in Garston Park Parade, Watford, Hertfordshire.

Fernandez was subsequently charged with two additional counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an imitation firearm.

Fernandez, of no fixed abode, has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery

He also recieved eight years each for three counts of possession of an imitation firearm to run concurrently.

Detective Sergeant David Barnfather, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said:“The bravery of James Rowley was truly remarkable in confronting what was for all intents and purposes, an armed and extremely dangerous criminal.

“Mr. Rowley’s courage and sense of civic duty are to be applauded and thanks to him Fernandez is behind bars.”

James Rowley receiving his commendation

Mr Rowley was presented with a Commendation for his actions by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley and will also be awarded a Police Public Bravery Award at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) annual awards ceremony later this week.

Mr Rowley also received £1,200 from the sheriff's fund for his bravery

"When I saw him enter the bank waving the gun around, making demands I just acted on instinct," James Rowley said.

"I thought that the gun wasn't real and therefore I knew I had to act.

"At the time I didn't think it was brave I thought it was my duty to get involved ignoring it was not the answer.

"I told him to leave and then he tried to escape I immediately thought no he is not going to get away with this so chased him with the help of my friend, holding him down until the officers came along.

"What's happened since then with receiving an Assistant Commissioner's commendation and now being awarded a police bravery award, well I am humbled."