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Article from The Daily Telegraph dated 22 August 1996

Woman Magistrate sees off
‘Silly Boy’ in Shotgun Raid

Photograph of Pamela Mills
Pamela Mills

When an escaped prisoner tried to hold up a bank, he chose the wrong day and the wrong customer.

Pamela Mills, a magistrate who was at the counter paying in cash from a street charity collection, turned to Carl Barnes, 22, and said: "Don't be so silly".Mrs Mills, 49, then pushed away the barrel of the robber's "shotgun". It was not real and Barnes stumbled back into the street in Burton Latimer, Northants, and made off.Yesterday the mother of three sons, who has been commended for her bravery by the county's chief constable, recalled how she foiled the robber by treating him like a naughty boy.She said: "I was standing there in a world of my own, watching the young lady as she checked the money. Suddenly, I heard a gruff voice saying: 'Give me the money.'  "It startled me and I turned round. He was standing beside me. I looked at his gun and it looked like two pieces of tubing wrapped in a plastic bag. I told him: 'Don't be so silly. That is not a real gun. Just go away'. And I brushed him aside."The robber, in dark sun­glasses, repeated his threat to the cashier and this time aimed his double-barrel imitation gun at Mrs Mills.She added: "I looked at it again and thought: 'Oh, my God.' This time it looked real. I thought my life was at risk. Again I blurted out 'Don't be so silly' and I knocked the gun up to the ceiling. I thought that if it was going to go off, at least it would only hit the ceiling and not me."He just turned round and walked off. It was all over in seconds. It was only afterwards that I realised what could have happened. I was very shaken."
The gun turned out to be a fake, made from two metal pipes bound together, poking out from a plastic bag. But the robber turned out to be very much the real thing.Barnes, described by a Crown Court judge as "a danger to society", was on the run from Wellingborough Prison where he was serving six years for robbery.He and his cellmate bent back the bars of their cell and used bits of a bunk bed to make a ladder. They then left the radio on to cover the noise of their escape.Barnes was later arrested when armed police swooped on a house in Northampton and was sentenced to a second jail term of seven years.He admitted attempting to rob Barclays Bank in Burton Latimer, from where he had fled empty-handed.

To read about the aftermath of this incident, see the feature on Pam Mills in the People section

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