A courageous window cleaner who prevented an armed robbery at Lloyds Bank on Brighton Road in Croydon last November is to be honoured with a Police Public Bravery Award.
James Rowley, 34, from Caterham, Surrey, will receive the award at the annual Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) awards ceremony on Thursday. He has also been given £1,200 from the sheriff’s fund at Kingston Crown Court for his heroic actions.
On November 27 last year, Rowley confronted armed robber Andrew Fernandez after noticing that the gun he was using to threaten a bank cashier with was fake. Rowley approached and shouted at Fernandez twice as he was demanding cash and the robber fled.
Fernandez attempted to escape on a bicycle, but Rowley pursued him on foot with a friend who had been waiting outside in his van. Together, they caught and detained Fernandez until police arrived.
“At the time I didn’t think it was brave I thought it was my duty to get involved, ignoring it was not the answer. I told him to leave and then he tried to escape I immediately thought no he is not going to get away with this so chased him with the help of my friend, holding him down until the officers came along.” Rowley said.
Rowley also showed officers where he had seen Fernandez dump an object, which led to the imitation firearm he had used being recovered.
Police later discovered that Fernandez had committed two almost identical robberies in 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to two counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery.
Detective Sergeant David Barnfather, from the Met’s Flying Squad praised Rowley’s decisions and said: “The bravery of James Rowley was truly remarkable in confronting what was for all intents and purposes, an armed and extremely dangerous criminal. Mr. Rowley’s courage and sense of civic duty are to be applauded and thanks to him Fernandez is behind bars.”
Rowley’s actions were also rewarded in March, when he was presented with a Commendation from Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.
About his recognition, Rowley said: “What’s happened since then with receiving an Assistant Commissioner’s commendation and now being awarded a police bravery award, well I am humbled.”