Article from The Daily Mail, August 22nd 1996

Robber told not to be a Silly Boy

Photograph of Pam Mills
Pamela Mills: 'No Nonsense'

Magistrate Pam Mills never stood any nonsense from her three sons as they were growing up.

So when a young armed robber burst into a bank as she was paying in charity cash, she treated him 'just like a naughty boy'.

Confronting the raider, she calmly told him: "Don't be so silly. That's not a real gun. Just go away." Then she brushed him aside.

It was only when the robber again ordered a woman cashier to hand over money and this time pointed what appeared to be a double-barrelled gun at Mrs Mills that she realised the situation could be serious.

She said yesterday: "He turned round and levelled the gun at my stomach. 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 weapon up towards the ceiling.

'I thought that if it was going to go off at least it would only hit the roof. Then the man just turned round and walked off. It was all over in seconds. Only afterwards did I realise what could have happened. I was very shaken.'

Mrs Mills, 49, recalled the day she foiled the bank robbery last June after being commended for her bravery by Northamptonshire Chief Constable, Ted Crew, who presented her with a certificate of appreciation.

Mr Crew said: 'Although Mrs Mills had some doubt as to whether it was a real firearm, she could not have been sure. But for her prompt and courageous action a robbery would have been committed."

Mrs Mills said she was standing in the bank 'in a world of her own' watching the cashier check the money when a gruff voice said, "Give me the cash".

Photograph of raider, Carl Barnes
Carl Barnes -Ticked Off

She went on: "I thought he was playing the fool, so I told him not to be so silly, just like I would have done with my own children ten years ago. Then I brushed him aside. 'The 'gun' turned out to be two metal pipes bound together by 22-year-old raider Carl Barnes.

Described by a judge as a 'danger to society', he was on the run from jail, where he was serving six years for robbery.

Barnes was later sentenced to another seven years after he admitted attempting to rob Barclays in High Street, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire.

Mrs Mills, who has received two other bravery awards following the incident, said later at her home: "I'm just an ordinary wife and mum. I thought at the time, I never stood any nonsense from my children so I am not standing any from you".

"I acted instinctively. If I had thought about it I would probably have run a mile. Looking back now it may seem a little foolish, but thankfully it turned out all right and he was put back in jail fairly quickly."

Mrs Mills, a magistrate for 14 years, is a charity worker and also runs the local church creche. Her sons Christopher, Andrew arid Peter are all in their twenties.

Her husband Bob, a 50-year-old engineer, said:

"I wouldn't say she was strict, but she didn't let the boys get away with much."