Police Public Bravery Awards 2012

25 May 2012

Colin Thomas presented with Binney Award

A store supervisor who was left fighting for his life after he was shot at point blank range when confronting armed robbers in Croydon in 2009, has received the highest accolade at national bravery awards.

Colin Thomas was presented with the Binney Award at a ceremony in Manchester on Thursday 24 May after being nominated by the Metropolitan Police Service. The annual ACPO Police Public Bravery Awards recognise outstanding acts of courage. Colin also received a gold medal.

Without a thought for his own safety Colin ran over to the gunmen, when he heard the alarm go off. One of them shouted: "shoot him" to his accomplice during the robbery at a superstore. The gunmen then made off with £70,000 of jewellery.

Colin said: "It all seemed to happen in seconds. I heard the alarm go off and glass shattering and ran over. The gunman shot me in the stomach. I was conscious but felt the life draining out of me. I later found out there were two off duty Met police officers there who helped me by stemming the bleeding, talking to me and keeping me conscious. I was taken to intensive care, where I stayed for five weeks. I had surgery five times and may need more. I am still not fully recovered. "

Detective Inspector Gary Smith, who was off duty in the store at the time, said: "I was there with my family and another off-duty officer, DS Simon Mearns. I heard the commotion and my daughter ran over screaming: 'It's a robbery'. I quickly told them to stay at the back of the store.

"Customers were screaming and there was utter panic. We heard the shot and after making sure everyone was safe we ran over where the victim was on the floor. We pressed his gunshot wound to stop the bleeding. We kept him conscious until the ambulance arrived about 25 minutes later. He was very brave to do what he did.

"This shows that police officers, on and off duty, are protecting Londoners from the threat posed by serious criminals. These awards are not designed to encourage people to put themselves in danger; they simply offer us the chance to honour their bravery."

Detective Sergeant, Paul Clifford, who led the investigation, added:"We had very little to work on but after some digging we got a couple of breakthroughs. This included a mobile phone belonging to one of the men with a picture of a diamond ring which had been taken in the robbery. Although he deleted it we managed to retrieve it. The gunman was later sentenced to a minimum of 22 years."

A posthumous gold award also went to a man who was stabbed to death in London whilst confronting two muggers in 2010.

Father-of-one Sukhwinder Singh, 31, chased after the muggers after witnessing the attack on a 28-year-old woman in Barking, East London. When he caught up with them he was fatally injured by a single stab wound.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector, Andrew Kelly, who is leading the investigation, said: "Sukhwinder's family remain devastated by his loss but are very proud that he has been nominated for this award and of his courageous actions in helping a vulnerable victim of street robbery.

"This award is richly deserved. Sukhwinder displayed the highest values of public spirit and courage by tackling the two suspects who had robbed a woman of her handbag and phone. Tragically he paid the ultimate price for his selfless actions.

"This is an active investigation and I hope that today's posthumous award may prompt members of the local community who I still believe hold vital information to now come forward." 

The Binney Medal is presented in honour of Captain Ralph Binney who died in 1944, when he made a single-handed attempt to prevent the escape of 'smash and grab' thieves in London