Judge praises ‘selfless courage’ in store raid

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A TEACHER, who bravely wrestled a man to the ground as he was trying to rob a Bury St Edmunds store, has been hailed a hero by a judge.

Leigh Hoggar grabbed hold of Ainsley Hale, as he threatened customers at the Tesco Express, in Stamford Court, Horringer Road, and demanded money.

Mr Hoggar wrestled Hale to the ground and kept him there until police arrived and this week was awarded £400 for his ‘selfless courage’.

Ipswich Crown Court heard on Monday that Hale, 35, of Westgarth Gardens, Bury, entered the store at lunchtime on May 14.

Prosecuting, Robert Sadd said Hale had put items into a basket, walked to the till and waited until they were being scanned before saying: “Give me the money from the till I mean it.”

Hale then put his hand into his pocket as if he had a weapon and demanded: “Open the till and give me all the money or I will be violent to the customers.”

Mr Hoggar, who had been trained in the use of pressure points, then intervened.

In mitigation, Charles Myatt said that Hale had problems with alcohol and that the attempted robbery was out of character.

Hale, who pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery, was given an 11 month sentence, suspended for two years and was placed under supervision for two years.

He must also attend an alcohol treatment programme for 12 months.

Sentencing, Judge David Goodwin said it would have been an ‘extremely terrifying situation’ for shop staff but said that Hale, a family man with a problem with alcohol, was an unlikely robber.

Speaking of Mr Hoggar, Judge Goodin said: “He swiftly and courageously assessed the situation, overpowering the robber, brought him to the ground and kept him there pending the arrival of the police.

“That act of admirable, public spirited and selfless courage should be recognised and I reward him the sum of £400.”