Great Britain

'Boro hero' chased knife-wielding raider for more than a mile

A COUNCIL worker chased a knife-wielding supermarket raider for over a mile.

Middlesbrough Council area care operative John Welsh's quick-thinking bravery was recognised this week with a Boro Hero award from Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston.

Mr Welsh saw the man struggling with staff outside Morrisons at Berwick Hills on October 9 and feared for the safety of nearby schoolchildren.

The 37-year-old described seeing a ‘commotion' before seeing light flashing off the blade of a large kitchen knife.

He said: "He was waving it about - there were some schoolkids with their parents nearby.

"I've jumped from the van and ran over to him and tried to get him to put the weapon down, but he tried to attack me."

With no thought for this own safety, Mr Welsh then gave chase, pursuing the knifeman through Berwick Hills, in and out of gardens, along Penrith Road, across Ormesby playing fields and finally onto Siddington Walk and Premier Road.

Throughout the ten-minute pursuit, he kept up a running commentary via a 999 call to Cleveland Police, updating them on the suspect's location, and dodging wild swipes of the blade as the man tried to fend him off with threats to kill.

Mr Welsh added: "At one point a lady came out of her house, but I told her to go back inside and lock her doors.

"He tried to hide in a garden, and when I tried to coax him out he got close and took another swipe at me.

"When I was joined by a police officer, I jumped over the wall and grabbed him by the legs and we both held him down until more officers arrived. I felt like I couldn't just leave it - he was totally erratic and a danger to the public, and someone could have been badly hurt that day."

Knifeman James Harrigan subsequently pleaded guilty to robbery, affray and possession of a weapon, and last month was jailed for six and a half years at Teesside Crown Court.

Mr Preston presented Mr Welsh with a Boro Hero award this week and said: "John showed remarkable bravery and tenacity that goes far beyond the call of duty. He had no thought for his own safety, but acted to protect others."

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