A Croydon shop assistant, shot after attempting to accost armed robbers, was last night awarded for bravery at the Association of Chief Police Officers Awards.
Colin Thomas, 24, was shot in the stomach at point blank range after running towards the robbers who had made off with £70,000 worth of jewellery from the Croydon store in 2009.
Thomas 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.”
Two off-duty police officers were in the shop at the time and gave immediate first-aid to Thomas. Detective Inspector Gary Smith said: “Customers were screaming and there was utter panic. We heard the shot and after making sure everyone was safe we ran over to 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.”
The gunman was later tracked down using mobile phone evidence and sentenced to serve a minimum of 22 years in prison.
Thomas was presented with the Binney Award and a gold medal at the ceremony in Manchester which were part of the annual police chiefs’ conference. Also awarded the ACPO with a gold medal was Ben Hudson from Stourbridge, West Midlands. Then 16, Hudson rugby-tackled a knifeman as he stabbed his ex-girlfriend outside their school.
Hudson pinned him to the ground and had his finger sliced before others intervened. The 14 year old girl was stabbed 11 times and was taken to hospital by air ambulance.
Father-of-one Sukhwinder Singh, 31, was posthumously awarded a gold medal. The East London builder was killed in 2012 following his chasing after muggers in Barking. Singh was fatally stabbed after confronting the two muggers, whom he had witnessed stealing a woman’s handbag.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Kelly is leading the investigation into the attack. He 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,” he said.