WITH a gun being pressed against the side of your head, most people would have frozen with fear.
But when an armed robber held up an elderly couple in their Hampshire home, he couldn’t have guessed one of his victims would be a feisty retired nurse.
Instead of succumbing to his demands, she shattered his grand plan to escape with thousands of pounds and told him he was the “most hopeless criminal” she’d ever met.
It was his second armed robbery in nine days in the New Forest, after kidnapping the driver of a Porsche at gunpoint at Brockenhurst railway station.
During the latest ordeal, 64-year-old Janice was kidnapped by the crazed man, who had also violently attacked her 70-year-old husband as he tried to dial 999, hitting him around his head with the gun, punching him and knocking him to the ground.
Today, in an exclusive interview, Janice has relived the dramatic robbery in which she feared her husband would be killed and tells the remarkable and, in parts, comedic meeting with Hampshire’s most wanted man. It was mid-morning last Friday, as Janice was about to set off to the hairdressers for last minute preparations before her son got married the following day, that the robber struck.
Dressed bizarrely in a high-visibility jacket and with swimming goggles over his eyes, he had brazenly walked up her driveway and held the gun against her temple.
She said: “It didn’t take me long to realise he had a gun against my head and I just said to him ‘look, I don’t have time for this, I’ve got a busy day with lots to do’. I was so angry.”
The gunman marched her back inside and then ordered Janice and her husband to sit next to each other before he began telling them what he was going to do next.
Janice said: “He said he didn’t want to do what he was doing, that he had a wife and small baby daughter.
“I began talking to him. I asked him howhe got into this – telling him he clearly wasn’t a criminal – and then at one point I even got up and put my arm around him.
“I told him I felt so sorry for him adding ‘you’ve got yourself into a terrible situation’.”
Janice described how he demanded cash and then robbed her husband of £100 before telling them he would take her hostage.
Janice described how she and her husband then began arguing between them over who should be the hostage while he stood in front of him, gun in hand, waving his arms around.
I said to him: “This is totally rubbish – call yourself a criminal? You are the worst criminal I have ever encountered.
“He just took it. It was like I was mother and my husband was the enemy.”
The gunman then threatened to shoot Janice but she told him: “What’s the point in murdering me? An armed robbery is bad enough.”
Janice, who admits she wasn’t as terrified as she should have been, then agreed she would go with him to the forest once she made him promise he would return her home again and not abandon her.
But violence erupted as they made their way out of the front door and he saw Janice’s husband trying to call police.
He hauled him outside, knocked him to the ground, hit him and punched him.
The fracas continued, with Janice fearing he might kill her husband, until she intervened and ordered them back inside her home.
She said: “I just shouted ‘right, I’ve had enough of this, get back in the house’.
“For that brief moment I had regained control. I told him I would go with him but he was to leave my husband at home.
“On the driveway I asked him ‘so who is going to drive then?’ and he said ‘me’.
“I got into the passenger seat and he got in next to me, wearing his goggles again.
“He spun out of the driveway while I ordered him to put his seatbelt on because the alarm was sounding.”
Clutching the gun, the robber drove the car towards Everton, becoming frustrated at one point because he was forced to wait behind a stopped vehicle.
“I was telling him to take the goggles off, that he looked silly.”
But with no clear plan of what he should do next, Janice began laying in to him once again – criticising the mistakes he had made and demanding he stop the car near the Crown Inn pub in West Lane and let her out.
It was there that they had a near miss with a sandycoloured 4x4 as they negotiated the narrow stretch of road.
The driver of that vehicle, who police are trying to trace, had stopped on an embankment and waved at Janice.
She said: “He admitted it was a complete failure and I told him I agreed, that it had gone too far and it had to stop.”
Heeding her advice, he then drove her home via back roads, confirming police suspicions he must be a local man, but told Janice he would have to stop and collect his bag which he’d left inside her home.
Back at the house, Janice said: “I felt a sense of responsibility to him by now, but at the same time I’d had enough.
“This was my house, my car and my husband was vulnerable.
“He’s not a psychopath, he’s a desperate man, but when he was violent to my husband, it was as if a red mist had descended and he could quite easily have killed him.
“I told him ‘just go away, I don’t want to see you again’ and then I wished him a Happy Christmas and off he went in my car.”
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