Public praised by judge as armed robber is jailed for five years

A bungling robber has been jailed for five years after being detained by members of the public minutes after an armed raid on a shop in Dudley.

Stephen Ball, 31, was carrying a baseball bat when he and an accomplice, who was armed with a machete, stormed into Spar on Abbey Road, Lower Gornal.

Staff were threatened by the raider with the machete, who demanded to be taken to the warehouse area. Ball jumped behind the counter and started to empty cigarettes and tobacco into a bag. His partner fled with the cash, but dropped it because it was too heavy. He escaped in a waiting Rover and is yet to be traced.

Meanwhile, Ball, of Turner Street, Tipton, realised he had been left on his own and tried to open the door, but was foiled when he tried to push instead of pulling it. Members of the public tried to keep the door shut from the other side, but Ball smashed it with his baseball bat, showering one man with glass and forcing others to back off.

He managed to escape from the shop before smashing the window of a woman’s car as she sat in it outside the shop, leaving her with cuts to her head. Another member of the public arrived and punched Ball in the face and then sat on him until police arrived and arrested him, at around 10pm on 23 October.

He was jailed for five years on Wednesday, 22 November, after admitting robbery, criminal damage, assault, affray and possession of an offensive weapon. DC Cal Sanders, from force CID, said:

"Ball has received a substantial prison sentence for committing this offence, which had a level of violence. I wish to thank the brave members of the public who helped detain a violent offender until police arrived. 

“This incident shook staff and members of the public alike and I hope that the sentence will go some way to easing their nerves."  

The sentencing judge awarded £100 to three members of the public who helped detain Ball.


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