IT SOUNDS like a scene from a Hollywood action blockbuster.
A machete-wielding thief, a plot to steal thousands of pounds and a dramatic high-speed car chase that ends with the good guy trapping the bad guys.
But this isn’t stuff of fiction – this is what happened in a quiet Hampshire town when a dad-of-two turned hero after stumbling across an armed robbery.
The two armed robbers Ricky Maidment, pictured above with machete in hand fleeing with security box, and Gary Allen are today behind bars and that is thanks to the bravery of Philip Hoare.
When faced with a man menacingly waving a machete most people would run in the opposite direction – but not this 41-year-old.
The demolition company manager from Hampshire wasn’t meant to be in Fordingbridge that day, but when he took a wrong turn and spotted a security guard being threatened with the large weapon, instinct took over.
As Maidment, above, wrestled the box of £18,000 free from the grip of the G4S security guard outside the Tesco Express store, he fled up the road to his getaway vehicle, where Allen was waiting behind the wheel.
Terminally ill Allen, 41, had agreed to be the getaway driver, desperate to raise the cash he needed to visit his terminally ill stepson in hospital.
Jake, 19, was being treated for cystic fibrosis in Salisbury Hospital but a recent move to Southampton General Hospital meant expensive daily visits.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard how tree surgeon Allen had met Maidment at Salisbury Hospital and although he initially refused the chance to make some money, he finally agreed after work slowed and doctors revealed that his stepson has just six months to live.
As the Land Rover sped off, hero Mr Hoare was in pursuit, already using his mobile phone to film the dramatic scenes unfolding in front of him, while also telling police what was happening.
Mr Hoare said: “Adrenalin just takes over.
“I know that I would have wanted somebody to have done something if it was me, so I did what I could.
“I can’t stand bullies and this guy had a machete over this poor security man’s head. I had to do something.”
Knowing that they had a man on their tail, Allen sped erratically and dangerously through residential streets and country roads, trying to lose him.
At one point they managed to get the cash free from the secure box it was in and threw that towards the windscreen of Mr Hoare’s van in a bid to stop him, but he was able to swerve out of the way.
Mr Hoare stopped a cyclist travelling in the other direction and told him to wait by the box, now vital evidence, until officers arrived.
The 15-minute chase continued until the Land Rover headed down a private dirt track that was impossible for Mr Hoare to negotiate in his van. But by that time, thanks to his detailed commentary on what was happening, police were already at the other end of the track, blocking off the escape route.
Within seconds, the pair from Salisbury were arrested and the full £18,000 recovered.
Mr Hoare added: “I don’t consider myself a hero. My wife said I was mental but I think anyone else would have done the same.”
Both Allen, above, who has no previous convictions, and 27-year-old Maidment, who has a long criminal record, pleaded guilty to the armed robbery on March 5.
Sentencing Allen to 32 months behind bars, Judge Samuel Wiggs said his case was “exceptionally tragic” and the jail term was “the very least” he could impose.
He added: “I am sorry that you have let your family down in this way. I am sorry for the inevitable effect this will have on your son.”
Maidment was jailed for four years and eight months and was given a concurrent one-year jail term for possessing a blade.
In mitigation, Frank Abott said the robbery had been masterminded by a third party – a man questioned by police but not charged – who recruited Maidment due to his long record.
Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Bob Rees from Lyndhurst CID said the intervention of Mr Hoare had been “crucial” in detaining the suspects.
He added: “I consider Mr Hoare a hero. He monitored, he filmed, he gathered evidence for us and put himself at risk doing so. But he remained calm and collected, acting in an intelligent and considered manner.
“The investigation would have been much more difficult and protracted if it was not for his intervention.”