A builder has spoken about the moment he fought off an armed burglar who pinned a shotgun to his chest – as police hail him a ‘community hero’.
Construction supervisor John Buchan has been praised after he helped disarm and detain thief Daniel Hicks as he raided the building site in Walker.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how 26-year-old Hicks had sneaked into the site on Losh Terrace under the cover of darkness on the morning of January 28.
He armed himself with a rusted shotgun and swiped a GPS tracker before approaching the builder, who had turned up for the start of their shift.
Upon seeing the intruder lurking in the shadows, Mr Buchan approached him to investigate what he was doing.
But the father-of-two was left stunned when Hicks thrusted the sawn-off shotgun into his chest and began to threaten him and his colleagues.
The court was told how Mr Buchan, 54, remained calm and asked Hicks what he was doing – while waiting for his moment to pounce.
As the armed intruder glanced at a colleague, the builder made a grab for the weapon, wrestling it from his grasp and pinning the gunman to the ground.
He was able to keep him detained until police arrived. Hicks, of Melton Avenue, Walker, was arrested and has now been jailed for eight years.
Following the sentence, Mr Buchan said his instincts took over and left him with little choice but to disarm the violent intruder.
He said: “It all happened really quickly. I had started to walk towards him and suddenly he had ran up to me and stuck something in my chest.
“I looked down and saw the gun and just thought ‘bloody hell’. I just thought to myself that I’m going to have to somehow take it off him.
“I had one of the lads to my right and the other to my left and he kept glancing at them. I knew I didn’t have anyone behind him.
“He turned towards one of them and lifted the gun off my chest and I knew that was my moment so I just grabbed it and pulled it as hard as I could.
“I was able to throw it away and then pin him to the ground. I hadn’t been thinking much before but then on the ground I was terrified.
“I was worried he had a knife or something but then police arrived and he was arrested. It was over just like that.
“Honestly it was just fight or flight, I had no other option and I didn’t want to think about what could happen if I hadn’t done anything.
“Him being jailed draws a line under it. He deserves what he got. People are human beings and don’t deserve to be treated like that.
“It was the talk of the building community and has stuck with me a bit. Everyone knows about it and says something. I’m just glad everyone was okay.”
At the sentencing hearing Mr Buchan was praised by a judge for showing an “extraordinary level of bravery” in the face of danger.
Detective Superintendent John Bensley, of Northumbria Police, has also today (Tuesday) hailed the builder as a “community hero” and condemned Hicks’ actions.
He said: “This must have been a terrifying experience for Mr Buchan who was confronted by a stranger wielding a shotgun in near complete darkness.
“But he stayed calm, engaged with the intruder and was able to wrestle the gun from his grasp as he was distracted by a colleague.
“We would never advocate anyone to try and detain an offender but there is no doubt that Mr Buchan’s showed incredible bravery and courage.
“He is a real community hero whose actions have prevented him, his colleagues or any other member of the public from being killed or seriously injured.
“We welcome the lengthy sentence handed down to Hicks who will now spend a significant spell behind bars for this botched burglary.
“His actions were completely unacceptable and if it were not for the heroics of his victim then who knows what he could have gone on to do.”
Hicks admitted burglary, possessing a firearm when prohibited and possessing a prohibited firearm at Newcastle Crown Court.
He claimed in court that he thought the 12 gauge single-barrelled Italian shotgun was a ‘novelty’ and that it was not loaded.
Firearms experts at Northumbria Police analysed the weapon and found that, although it was rusty, the gun was in good working order.