Article from The Times, Thursday August 22 1996

Don’t be silly, wife tells bank robber

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 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.”