An alleged robber of a local Subway restaurant got more than he bargained for when an Air Force sergeant and his son apprehended the man and defused a potentially dangerous criminal act.
On their way home after a game of touch football, Sergeant Gareth Thomas and son Seimon stopped at Progress Corner, Richlands to pick up a take-away.
What was only meant to be a quick stop resulted in the father and son duo bravely stopping an armed robbery.
Sergeant Thomas encountered the would-be bandit earlier in the restaurant while ordering his food, and thought then there was something “off” about him.
“As we were reversing out of the carpark to leave the driveway, we saw the man re-enter the shop and I said to Seimon – ‘we might just sit here and wait, I don’t like the look of what’s going on here’,” SGT Thomas said.
“I drove back into the carpark, got out and went into the shop to ask the girls working if everything was okay, and as I’ve walked in they’ve put their hands up.”
At this stage, the man was already taking money out of the register, armed with a syringe.
It was the quick thinking and bravery of SGT Thomas to apprehend the man, get the syringe off of him and get him on the ground.
While this was happening, son Seimon held back the door and dialled triple zero.
“I was holding the door back so that if he tried to escape he couldn’t push the door open,” Seimon said. “Dad was the muscles and I was the brain.”
SGT Thomas has worked as a reservist at RAAF Amberley for 24 years in No 2 Security Forces Squadron Airbase Protection Flight. He says his training and experience equipped him with the skills to defuse the situation.
“We do scenarios where you go in and people have weapons and it’s quick thinking which probably gave me the courage to go in there,” SGT Thomas said.
“It was one of those things where I couldn’t stand by and watch from the outside. Without even telling Seimon, he followed me and rang the police on his own accord.”
Investigators nearby returning from another job were able to make it to the premises under two minutes to arrest the assailant, much to the relief of both SGT Thomas and Seimon who were exhausted from the earlier touch football game, and a 110km bike ride the day prior.
Left with a few bumps and bruises from the altercation, SGT Thomas said while he wouldn’t recommend anyone try and stop a robbery he has no regrets – and would probably do it again if the situation ever arises.
“I generally wouldn’t recommend people intervening, but the police were grateful and not once did they say I shouldn’t have gone in and helped.. I had sized him up and made a sound judgement call,” he said.
“Would I do it again? Probably.”
The 32 year old man was charged with armed robbery, assault occasioning bodily harm and entering premises with intent.