Robber collared by hero duo

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A SLEDGEHAMMER-wielding thug whose bungled raid on a Wigan bookies’ was thwarted by two have-a-go heroes has been caged.

A court heard bus driver Steven Millar and passenger Colin Faulkner rugby-tackled Ryan Green after he went on a drug-fuelled orgy of violence.

They leapt from the bus on seeing raider Ryan Green toting the weapon outside a branch of William Hill in Ormskirk Road, Newtown, and detained him until police arrived.

The duo were determined that 29-year-old Green should not avoid detection but a judge heard that police would easily have identified him as he was a daily regular at the shop.

Although the bungling raider had a knee support bandage around his face to try to disguise his appearance the staff instantly recognised his eyes, said Andrew Ford, prosecuting.

Green, who had taken a cocktail of alcohol and tranquillisers, left the betting shop empty-handed after causing more than £1,000 in damage. He admitted attempted robbery and was jailed for three years four months.

Judge Stephen Clarke told Green, of Bramble Grove, Worsley Hall, that he had been so well known at the bookies’ that the robbery bid was “doomed to failure”.

Commending bus driver, Steven Millar, 37, and passenger Colin Faulkner, the judge described their actions as “going beyond public duty. It deserves not only a commendation but a reward of £200 each.

“I know we may not have a lot of money but actions such as this ought to be commended and recompensed to some extent.”

The two men have already received bravery awards from the police. Judge Clarke said it was clear that Green, who has previous convictions for dishonesty including robbery when he was 17, had been addicted to alcohol and tranquillisers at the time of the offence.

The court heard that Green had been barred from the shop but about 9.30pm on June 7 this year he walked in carrying a sledgehammer in both hands. He demanded money and repeatedly hit the glass screen with the weapon smashing it.

The staff hid in the toilets and when they came back out found he had also smashed games machines but had left empty-handed as the shop takings were safely kept in a safe, said Mr Ford.

Meanwhile Mr Millar, of Up Holland, had spotted Green wrecking the premises and rang the police. Mr Faulkner overhearing the conversation got off the bus with him and they were confronted by Green holding the sledgehammer above his shoulders.

Mr Faulkner, 40, of St Helens, shouted over to him to stand still and drop the weapon and grabbed the handle and the two men struggled with him to get it off him. He and Mr Millar backed him into a corner and then grappled him to the ground and kept him there till the police arrived.

When interviewed, Green said he was a drug addict and needed money to furnish his flat. He had gone to see a drugs counsellor that afternoon and not been given the support he hoped for. He bought some lager and drank six cans in a field.

Green, who had also taken 10 diazepam tablets, said he was “down in the dumps” and decided to rob the shop, said Mr Ford.

Philip Astbury, defending, said that Green had been “crassly amateur. He had been recognised and had no chance of success. It demonstrates he was in a desperate state.”

He pointed out that he had been out of trouble for four and a half years and wants help to keep crime-free and is on a drug free wing in prison.