Landlady unmasks armed robber in Brixton pub raid

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The Independent Online
CHRISTMAS 1993, the Duke of Cornwall, a peaceful, friendly pub. Inside, about 30 people are drinking quietly, some enjoying a party in the saloon bar. It could be anywhere in Britain.

But this is Brixton, south London, less than half a mile from the spot where, in October, Constable Patrick Dunne was gunned down by two drug dealers who ran away laughing, and anything can happen. On Wednesday night, it did.

Two men, one black, one white, wearing balaclavas burst into the public bar at 10.30pm armed with what is thought to have been an Uzi semi-automatic pistol, America's favourite drug-crime gun capable of firing 10 rounds a second.

They ran behind the bar, put the gun to Lyn Pond's head and ordered her to open the till. But the landlady said no. Instead, she grabbed the weapon and struggled with the white robber, pulling off his balaclava. In return, he pistol-whipped her, causing deep gashes to the top of her head.

'I didn't have time to be frightened, I was just so angry,' she said yesterday. Despite the ordeal, Mrs Pond, 46, was back at work - she even managed a smile.

'I pulled the white guy's mask off and said 'There] We've seen you, we know who you are',' she said. 'I didn't know him, but I think some of the customers did, and they're not saying.

'I believe it was to do with drugs. This isn't a bad area but when you need your fix, you'll do anything. You have no conscience. I just won't have them doing it in my pub.'

Last May, Brixton police set up a seven-officer unit to run Operation Vulgan, a drive to recover weapons used in crime, especially related to crack cocaine dealing. Already, they have 22 guns.

'We don't want to give people the impression that Brixton is awash with guns because it simply isn't,' said Detective Inspector Andy Gardner. 'But there is a small group of people usually involved in dealing in crack cocaine who have had access to guns.

'Our recoveries have shown that the weapons seem to have been passed round and used in more than one crime, so the numbers are not as high as some people may think. Intelligence reports suggest that at any one time about 20 people have access to firearms.'

Officers are appealing for witnesses to come forward and they will be speaking to customers who saw the white man's face. Until the men are caught, the drinkers of Brixton will be looking over their shoulders during the Christmas festivities.

(Photographs omitted)

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