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Flashback: A courageous 16-year-old, a have-a-go hero and an armed robbery

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:38 22 July 2019

60 years ago.

60 years ago.

Romford Library

A look back at stories of 60, 40 and 20 years ago

40 years ago.40 years ago.

A 16-year-old Hornchurch boy who tried - and failed - to rescue his father from drowning at Southend was praised at the inquest this week for his courage.

David Benton, of Northumberland Avenue, Hornchurch and a friend. Arthur Frederick Suckling, 17, of Factory Road, Romford, who helped in the rescue attempt, were told by Mr A. J. Dalton, Southend deputy coroner: "Your efforts were very valiant."

A verdict of the accidental drowning was recorded in the death of Charles Edwin Joseph Benton, 46, who was employed at a photographic firm.

He died near the wreck of Mulberry Harbour, off the beach at Thorpe Bay.

20 years ago.20 years ago.

Mr Benton, described by his wife as "a big healthy and active, keen on the water but not a strong swimmer," was brought to shore by Donald Atkinson of Winchmore Hill.

Police were hunting for a brave have-a-go hero who tackled armed bandits in a bid to stop a £25,000 robbery.

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The mystery man lashed out at a vicious shotgun gang when they swooped on security guards outside at Elm Park bank.

Detectives praised his courage and appealed for him to come forward, The drama began when a Security Express van arrived outside the National Westminster Bank in Elm parade, St Nicholas Avenue at 10.20am to deliver cash. Two guards left the van to walk towards the bank and were pounced on by four men with sawn-off shotguns.

One grabbed the cash bag and started to run off. But one of the guards jumped on his back, and threatened to shoot if he didn't let him go.

The mystery hero then ran to help the guards and punched one of the gang.

A pair of armed robbers held up a Securicor van with a gun and are believed to have made off with around £70,000.

The terrifying attack happened around 10am outside the Abbey National bank, in Station Parade, Elm Park.

It is believed the robbers shoved a Securicor guard up against the side of the van and threatened him with a handgun, while another guard inside the van passed out money through the hatch.

Securicor was offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction.

A witness said: "It was really frightening, these two men started shouting and waving a gun. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, then they just ran off. I was quite shaky because I didn't know where they were going to run to or to what they were going to do next - it was awful."

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