Hero London window cleaner halts gunman in bank after realising his weapon is fake

James Rowley stopped Andrew Fernandez from robbing a branch of Lloyd's, before chasing him down the street and holding him until police arrived

A window cleaner who managed to disarm a bank robber, catch him after he ran down the street and detain him until police arrived said the assailant had simply “got me on the wrong day”.

James Rowley stopped Andrew Fernandez in his tracks after he ran into a branch of Lloyd’s Bank in Coulsdon, south London, waving an imitation fire arm.

In CCTV footage obtained during the incident, Mr Rowley can be seen paying cheques into an account when Fernandez walks in wearing a motorcycle helmet and brandishing a fake gun, before demanding the cashier serving Mr Rowley hand over cash.

Mr Rowley told The Evening Standard he realised the gun was a fake when he spoke to Fernandez, who he said appeared to hesitate.

He then shouted “a few choice words” at Fernandez before running out of the branch and down the street after him.

“I was in a bad mood," Mr Rowley explained. "I’d been dashing around all morning like a headless chicken trying to get the cheques and money together to pay the bills.

“I was at the counter and I saw this guy walk in with a crash helmet on. I just thought ‘here we go’. I knew what was going to happen next and I wasn’t in the mood for it.

“I’ve never been in a situation like that before, I just acted on instinct. I chased him up the road with a fire extinguisher and when I caught up with him he hit me over the head with his crash helmet and knocked me to the floor.

“My friend grabbed him and we both held onto him until the police turned up. By that point he knew he wasn’t going anywhere.”

He told officers he had seen Fernandez throw an object into a nearby building site, which was the imitation fire arm. Police discovered Fernandez, who was homeless, had also committed two identical raids in Barnet and Watford earlier in 2013.

He pleaded guilty two counts of robbery and one attempted robbery at Kingston Crown Court on Monday and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Mr Rowley has been presented with a Commendation for his actions by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley and will be awarded a Police Public Bravery Award at the Association of Chief Police Officers annual awards ceremony on Thursday.

Detective Sergeant David Barnfather, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “The bravery of James Rowley was truly remarkable in confronting what was for all intents and purposes, an armed and extremely dangerous criminal.

“His courage and sense of civic duty are to be applauded and thanks to him Fernandez is behind bars".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own