Former soldier disarms corner shop robber and points his own gun at him

Antony Wolfe thought: ‘It’s far better that an idiot doesn't have a gun and that I have it’ 

Henry Austin
Monday 04 March 2019 23:20
Former soldier Anthony Wolfe wrestles gun from armed robber and then points it at head

A former soldier disarmed a robber during a raid on a corner shop - and pointed the gun at his head.

Antony Wolfe said his military training "kicked in" as he wrestled James Gowland, 31, who was attempting to steal money from a till of Ermin Food and Wine in Swindon, Wiltshire while wielding the firearm.

The 61-year-old was alerted by neighbours to the armed robbery and ran straight into the shop to take on the gunmen.

The retired teacher and ex-soldier managed to take the weapon from Gowland. To find out whether it was loaded Mr Wolfe pointed it at his head and asked: “If I pulled this will it blow your head off?”

As the police arrived, officers found him sitting on top of the robber.

With a scarf over his face and hood pulled over his head, the court heard. Pointing the weapon at shopkeeper Jegan Kandaswamy and told him to hand over the money or he would shoot him.

Mr Kandaswamy unlocked the till and Gowland helped himself to money before taking two bottles of Jack Daniel’s whiskey from a shelf.

Menahwile, Mr Wolfe, had been alerted to the ongoing robbery by concerned neighbours and arrived with a wood saw in his hand to intervene.

Antony Wolfe (left) points James Gowland's gun at him after stopping him from robbing a shop.

He grabbed hold of the gun barrel, twisted it away with both hands and pushed Gowland to the ground with the help of another member of the public.

The father-of-two said his “basic training kicked in” when Gowland pointed the gun in his direction. Charging forward, Mr Wolfe took the gun with both hands, twisted it and took it off him.

“I couldn’t get him to the ground and we crashed into sweets and chocolate shelves which fell over," he said. “I thought ‘It’s far better that an idiot doesn't have a gun and that I have it’. I wasn’t sure whether it was loaded. At that point I had in in my hand - it was heavy and I hadn’t got a clue whether it was real or not.

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“The shopkeeper was stuck in corner behind the counter - he was trapped by the robber who was about to leave the shop when we arrived.”

Mr Wolfe completed basic training in the army as an 18-year-old and later pursued a career as a secondary school teacher. He said a memory of combat training drills more than 40 years ago prompted his heroic reaction.

“We had him pinned on the ground for seven minutes while waiting for police but it felt like forever," he said. “He was struggling at the start but we managed to suppress him.”

Gowland, of Swindon, pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing an imitation firearm and was jailed for two years and 10 months.