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Police pay tribute to bank robber 'Good Samaritans'

image copyrightMet police
image captionAl-Fodday Fofanah was on day release from prison when he tried to rob a bank

Police have paid tribute to a group of "Good Samaritans" who helped apprehend an armed robber.

Al-Fodday Fofanah, 30, of Ford Open Prison, attempted to rob a south-east London Barclays Bank in July last year.

He has been jailed at Woolwich Crown Court for nine years and six months for attempted armed robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and escape from custody.

Police praised the people who helped catch him for their "bravery".

Fofanah was on day release from prison on 25 July when he pulled out an assault rifle from his bag and aimed it at a cashier while demanding money at Barclays Bank in Borough High Street, the Metropolitan Police said.

The cashier dived behind the counter, no money was stolen and Fofanah left the bank. But he was pursued by Met Police Commander Adrian Hanstock, who happened to be in front of him in the queue.

He was chased down Borough High Street by the officer, along with the bank's assistant manager Dean Smith and Michael Duncan - a trainee ambulance driver.

Alleyway pursuit

While they were following him, they saw a transit van driven by John Girton, a roofer, who mounted the pavement and pulled up in front of Fofanah.

image copyrightMet police
image captionPolice released a CCTV still of the armed robbery

Mr Girton and his colleague Errol Gray had witnessed Fofanah leaving the bank, presumed it was a terrorist incident and decided to apprehend him.

They then knocked Fofanah down in their van and he was forced to flee down a nearby alleyway.

Mr Girton and Mr Gray got out of their vehicle and followed him through a series of alleys into St Thomas Street.

An ice cream vendor who was parked there saw Fofanah being chased by the two men, and joined the pursuit.

A security officer at Guy's Hospital, Daniel Simons, who was patrolling in the area then blocked Fofanah's path, at which point he then took the rifle out of the bag again.

Another security manager, who has not been identified, grabbed the barrel and pointed it at the ground and pushed Fofanah back on to some railings.

At this point he was joined by the ice cream seller and Mr Simons, who helped him disarm Fofanah, and held him on the ground until police arrived on scene.

In January, Fofanah pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery, two counts of possession of an imitation firearm and escape from custody.

Following sentencing on Friday, Det Ch Insp Paul Johnson said: "I would like to thank the members of the public who demonstrated an enormous amount of bravery in confronting Fofanah."

In January, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The Good Samaritans were all recommended for a Commissioner's Commendation."

More on this story

  • 'Good Samaritans' caught Borough High Street attempted bank robber