Northamptonshire Magistrates Court Circular Document dated December 1996

Don’t be silly, wife tells bankrobber

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A woman magistrate foiled an armed bank robber by treating him like a naughty boy and telling him not to be so silly.

Pam Mills 49, a magistrate in Kettering, Northamptonshire, was presented with a certificate for the brave way she acted when the man behind her in the queue growled: "Give me the money." Mrs. Mills said: "I spoke to him just as I would have done to my children playing the fool ten years ago."

Mrs. Mills was paying in money from a charity street collection when she heard the gruff voice behind her. "I looked down at his gun and it looked like two pieces of tubing wrapped in a plastic bag. I told him: 'Don't be so silly. That's not a real gun. Just go away, 'and I brushed him aside."

The robber repeated his threat to the cashier and this time aimed his double-barrelled gun at Mrs. Mills. She said: "I looked at it again and thought. 'Oh, my God' This time it looked real. I thought my life was at risk. I knocked the gun up to the ceiling and he turned and walked off."

Mrs. Mills' first impressions were correct. The gun was a fake, but the man holding it, Carl Barnes, was real enough, and already on the run from Wellingborough prison where he was serving six years for robbery.

Barnes who was described by a Crown Court judge as a danger to society, was sentenced to a further seven years. He admitted attempting to rob Barclays Bank in Burton Latimer.

Asked if she thought she was a hero, Mrs. Mills replied: "I am just an ordinary wife and mum. I acted instinctively. If I had thought about it, I think I would probably have run a mile."

Ted Crew, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, said: "If it had not been for the prompt and courageous actions, despite the risk to her own safety, the robbery would have been committed.”