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‘Just doing my job’ - heroic policeman battles knife-wielding bank robber in Norwich

PC Richard Doughty.

PC Richard Doughty.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

The policeman who helped take down a knife-wielding bank robber has told today how he pursued the robber through six gardens, over three roads, and over six six-foot fences.

The dramatic chase took place after the robber held up the Plumstead Road branch of Norwich and Peterborough Building Society and threatened staff with a knife.

This week Recorder Maureen Baker commended firearms officer PC Richard Doughty for his bravery as Michael Toomey, 42, (pictured) was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court to six years’ imprisonment.

During the robbery on September 16 Toomey grabbed £6,531 from the tills. But it was the quick-thinking actions of the public and PC Doughty, which helped foil the robbery.

The married father-of-two, PC Doughty, said it was the first time he had received such a commendation from a judge.

“I was very proud,” he said. “This was a horrendous crime and I felt really sorry for the staff and members of the public who were faced with it.

“It was a traumatic experience for them all.”

PC Doughty started his career with Norfolk Constabulary 12 years ago and was based at Earlham for eight years. In 2005 he became a fire arms officer and since 2008 he has been permanently based on the armed response vehicle.

At the time of the incident, PC Doughty and his colleague, PC Robert Warrent, were in their vehicle at the Thickthorn roundabout, on the outskirts of Norwich, and were deployed straight away.

“The man had left the building only a minute or two before we arrived,” PC Doughty said. “We then did an extensive search but could not find him.”

A member of the public, who was at the junction of Borrowdale Drive and Fallowfield Close, caught the attention of the officers and alerted them to a man sitting in the driveway of a nearby house, whom she described as “looking suspicious”.

“As he saw our vehicle he hid on the other side of the road and was hiding behind someone’s car.

“He then leapt up and started running off.”

It was then that Toomey tried to make a break for it, trying to escape through six gardens, over three different roads, and climbing over six fences around six-foot-high each.

PC Doughty followed Toomey, taking him from Borrowdale Drive to Dugard Avenue, finally ending up in the back garden of a house on Riseway Close.

He said: “I was very mindful this could have turned into a hostage situation if he found someone in their garden. I wanted to avoid that at all costs.

“I was very aware of his capabilities and the intent he had shown with this knife - it was imperative that I caught him.

“I was not scared but I was aware that he had a potentially lethal weapon. But it was a situation I was equipped to deal with.”

When Toomey was eventually tracked down he was Tasered by PC Doughty, who was then joined by PC Warrent and PC Terry Chambers who helped to handcuff the criminal and recover the money.

The knife - which had been described as having a six-inch blade - was not found on Toomey.

PC Doughty, who sustained quite a few cuts and bruises, added that it was just part of his job and he was “really happy” that Toomey had been detained and a “good conviction” was achieved.

He said: “My personal view is that thankfully we have caught him and he is now serving a decent sentence which will keep the public safe.”

Window cleaner Simon Cramer was also commended for his public spirited actions and was awarded £100 from public funds.

For his part in the incident, Mr Cramer managed to escape the building society and phoned the police once he had realised what was happening.

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