Hooray Henry Hill: You?re a hero
By GRAEME SINGLETON
HE'S at an age when he could be excused for putting his feet up and reflecting on past achievements.
But yesterday 82-year-old Henry Hill emerged as the unlikely hero of a dramatic attempted armed robbery at Woolgoolga.
His act of bravery can only be described as inspirational.
Around 11.20am Henry had just finished a friendly chat with Woolgoolga IGA part-owner Tere Sheehan outside the National Australia Bank in Nightingale Street when a man dressed in blue boiler suit, and with a tracksuit pant leg fashioned into a balaclava over his head, allegedly approached Mr Sheehan, put a handgun to his head and demanded he hand over a bag he was carrying.
"I saw the bank's automatic doors open and Tere and the man go inside, so I followed them," Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill said when he saw them struggling in a corner he jumped on the man's back and put his hands around his neck.
"Next minute I knew he had thrown me off him and smacked me in the head with the gun," Mr Hill said.
The pensioner, who lives at Lorikeet Park, copped a split lip and cuts to his chin and forehead for his efforts but was yesterday unfazed by any suggestion he was a hero.
"I was in the British Royal Marines when I was younger, and as they say, 'Once a marine, always a marine'," Mr Hill said.
"I just acted out of instinct."
"My friend was being attacked and all I wanted to do was help him out."
According to police, after knocking Mr Hill to the ground, the alleged robber then fled the bank with the bag which contained the weekend's takings from IGA.
But he didn't get far.
Just outside the bank he was tackled to the ground by a man and woman.
The couple were off-duty police officers.
They were in turn helped by the proprietor of the Woolgoolga newsagency, Jeff Rogers, to subdue the man.
"I heard this ruckus and I thought someone was trashing my shop," Jeff said.
"As I ran out of the office and into the newsagency I heard someone yell out robber, and then I saw a man and a woman holding this fellow down in my doorway."
"I saw a gun and a money bag and when it looked like he was struggling free I grabbed him around the neck and put my weight onto him."
Mr Rogers helped restrain the alleged robber until police arrived.
"When they took his balaclava off it was pretty obvious the bloke was a local who was known by a few people."
Late yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Jason Breton said a 40-year-old Woolgoolga man was assisting police with their inquiries.
He said the gun had subsequently been found to be a replica pistol and all the money had been recovered.
As for Mr Hill he was resting up after what had been a surprisingly adventurous morning.
"I've had my afternoon whisky a bit earlier than usual today," he chuckled.
And who could deny him that little luxury.