VIDEO: Bank robber Andrew Fernandez jailed for life as James Rowley, hero window cleaner who foiled his crime, receives bravery award
A armed robber foiled by a have-a-go hero window cleaner as he tried to flee a bank raid by bike has been jailed for life.
Andrew Fernandez, 47, threatened a cashier with an imitation gun and demanded cash at Lloyds Bank in Brighton Road, Coulsdon, on November 27.
He was fended off and then chased down by James Rowley, 34, who will this week receive a police award for bravery.
Mr Rowley, of Caterham, had been in the bank as a customer when Fernandez, of no fixed abode, burst in wearing a motorcycle helmet.
The window cleaner suspected Fernandez's firearm was fake and told him to leave. The robber continued to demand cash and threaten the cashier, but fled when he was again challenged by Mr Rowley.
Fernandez tried to make his getaway on a pedal bike but was pursued by Mr Rowley and the window cleaner's colleague, who was waiting in a van outside.
They wrestled the would-be thief to the ground and held him until police arrived to arrest him.
Mr Rowley told officers he had seen Fernandez throwing an object into a nearby building site, where officers found the fake gun.
Police initially charged Fernandez with attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm, but detectives later learned he was responsible for two similar robberies, in Barnet and Watford, earlier that year.
He was charged two further counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an imitation firearm and pleaded guilty to all charges at Kingston Crown Court, where he was jailed for life today.
James Rowley received a commendation from the Met's assistant commissioner Mark Rowley
After sentencing Fernandez, judge Fergus Mitchell ordered that Mr Rowley receive a £1,200 reward for his braver.
He will also be given a police public bravery award at the Association of Chief Police Officers annual awards ceremony on Thursday and received a Metropolitan Police commendation in March.
Mr Rowley described himself as "humbled" by the awards.
He said: "When I saw him enter the bank waving the gun around, making demands I just acted on instinct. I thought that the gun wasn't real and therefore I knew I had to act.
"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.
"What's happened since then with receiving an Assistant Commissioner's commendation and now being awarded a police bravery award, well I am humbled."
Detective Sergeant David Barnfather, from the Met's robbery investigation team 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."
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