An armed robber on day release from a Sussex prison tried to hold up a Barclay’s bank and was apprehended by a police officer, a trainee ambulance driver, two roofers, two security officers, a bank manager and an ice cream vendor.
Al-Fodday Fofanah, 30, who was serving a sentence at Ford Open Prison near Arundel, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of attempted armed robbery, two counts of possession of an imitation firearm and escape from custody after his attempts to rob the bank were foiled. Woolwich Crown Court was told Fofanah fled Ford on July 18 after being released for the day.
On the afternoon of July 25 he visited Barclays Bank in Borough High Street, London.
He joined the queue and waited to be served.
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When it was turn to be served Fofanah pulled a stocking over his face and took an assault rifle from the bag and aimed it at the cashier while demanding money.
Frightened and fearing for their lives, a number of customers in the bank ran out into the street.
The cashier dived behind the counter as Fofanah waived the weapon at the other cashiers again demanding cash. When Fofanah realised no money was forthcoming he walked out of the bank with the gun in the bag.
Commander Hanstock, from the Metropolitan Police, had just been in the bank.
He was confronted with the fleeing suspect and he tried to call for police assistance.
The Commander, along with the bank’s assistant manager Dean Smith and trainee ambulance driver Michael Duncan, followed the suspect along Borough High Street.
Meanwhile roofer John Girton was in a van.
He and his colleague Errol Gray mounted the pavement, knocking Fofanah down.
As Fofanah ran off an ice cream vendor who was parked in St Thomas Street saw Fofanah being chased by the two men.
He left his van and chased Fofanah.
A security manager at Guy’s Hospital was patrolling in the area – he blocked Fofanah’s path and he was finally detained.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson said: “A number of people assisted with detaining Fofanah following the attempted armed robbery and without their help there is every possibility that he may have got away.
“I would like to thank the members of the public who demonstrated an enormous amount of bravery in confronting Fofanah especially those who showed little fear in tackling him to the ground and keeping hold of him until police arrived.
“Fofanah has now admitted that he was responsible for not only this but another attempted robbery and we hope that he will now be handed down a significant sentence.”
Fofanah will be sentenced on February 21 at Woolwich Crown Court.