Hero fireman who fought off robber says he would do same again
10:50am Sunday 14th October 2012 in News
A HERO fireman who chased and caught a robber after he held up a post office with a home-made imitation shotgun has told how he was determined the criminal should not get away.
Despite thinking monkey mask-wearing Kris Whittaker was armed, 30- year-old Daniel Winters leapt into action when he and his colleagues spotted him running from the Lea Gate post office.
The crew from green watch at Crompton Way fire station had been filling up their fire engine at Morrisons petrol station and were stopped at the Lea Gate traffic lights when they saw a woman with a pram run out of the nearby post office, and heard an alarm go off.
The fire engine was unable to manoeuvre in traffic to give chase.
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to have to do something,’ so I just jumped off and ran after him,” said 30-year-old Mr Winters.
Mr Winters, who boxes for the fire service, said he did not think about his own safety as he ran in his steel toe capped work shoes after Whittaker, although he was concerned when the robber disappeared from view around a corner.
“I had a quick look to make sure he wasn’t waiting and going to blow my head off,” he said.
“I didn’t want to lose him. As long as he was running I was determined to carry on.”
After a 500-yard pursuit Mr Winters, and driver Tony Crompton, who had followed in his van, grabbed hold of Whittaker near St Maxentius Primary School.
The pair of them wrestled the robber to the ground, but Mr Winters feared they were still in danger as he had fallen with his “gun”, which turned out to be painted pipes taped together, underneath him.
“I was relieved it wasn’t a gun because when he fell down he still had his hands on it and he might have used it in a last ditch attempt to get away,” said father-of five Mr Winters.
Mr Crompton ripped the monkey mask off Whittaker and Mr Winters, with his knee on the robber’s back, pulled his hands from underneath him.
The two heroes then waited until police arrived to arrest Whittaker.
Their bravery has earned the praise of Judge Peter Davies, who has invited them to Bolton Crown Court to thank them personally.
But Mr Winters’ disregard for his own safety did not go down so well with his fiancee Samantha Priest. “I got told off,” he said.
“Whether I would do it again I don’t know — I probably would