Brave Sussex Post Office master tells raider with a suspected gun: “Go away - don’t be ridiculous”

CCTV images of the attempted robbery of Stone Quarry Post Office, East Grinstead, 30 November 2018 SUS-180712-090454001
CCTV images of the attempted robbery of Stone Quarry Post Office, East Grinstead, 30 November 2018 SUS-180712-090454001

There can’t be many of us that would calmly tell a masked raider to simply “go away” while a sawn-off shot gun was pointing out of his bag.

But that’s what fearless relief postmaster Paul Bennett told a man in a boiler suit who marched into Stone Quarry Post Office, in Hollands Way, and demanded cash.

Paul Bennett, postmaster of Stone Quarry Post Office, East Grinstead SUS-180712-105056001

Paul Bennett, postmaster of Stone Quarry Post Office, East Grinstead SUS-180712-105056001

It was the 14th time Paul has been involved in similar incidents, the last in June by a man with a knife, and he said he would not hesitate to do it again.

The 59-year-old said: “It was not the wisest thought to go through my head. But they were calm and I was calm. They just turned around and left. It was all over in a couple of minutes.”

It had just gone 4.20pm last Friday (November 30) and Paul was getting ready to close up, when two men suddenly came in through the door. One man, wearing a white boiler suit and mouth shield, appeared to have a shotgun in a black holdall as the barrel end was pointing out.

Paul said: “The guy said ‘Give me the money’ and I said ‘go away - don’t be ridiculous. He then said, ‘open the safe, I mean it.’ He then looked at his accomplice who was stood at the doorway and just shook his head. I could see about four inches of the barrel of a shot gun pointing out of his bag. He was right in front of me. I was not afraid. They just turned about and walked out.”

The incident occurred at the premises in Hollands Way, about 4.22pm on Friday (November 30).

Sussex Police released the CCTV images of the two men.

One suspect demanded money from the safe while the other stood by the door.

The suspect who demanded the cash was about 5’6” tall, aged 35-40 and spoke with a local accent.

He wore a white boiler suit and appeared to have a shotgun in a black holdall. Both men wore masks and gloves.

Paul has been a postmaster for 30 years and came to Stone Quarry Post Office at the start of November to provide relief cover. He has worked in post offices across the region from Croydon down to Worthing.

He said: “It had been fairly busy, a lot of people were coming in and paying in their wages.

“They waited until my last customer had gone. We are in a fairly quiet spot, we are by ourselves.

“They came from across the green and they walked straight in. It was over within minutes. They walked out and I presume they had a car.

“This was the 14th incident I have been involved in. During the 80s and 90s there were a lot of raids. They used to target the customers then.

“People might think I was brave or stupid. I could see about four inches of the barrel of what looked like a sawn-off shotgun pointing out of the bag in my direction.

“They did not come in shouting and swearing.

“The man spoke with a southern accent, they were calm so I remained calm.

“I was straight back to work on Saturday, get straight back on the bike and yes I would not hestitate to do it again.”

Sussex Police is appealing for anyone with information about the incident or the two men in the CCTV images can 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting serial 1031 of 30/11.

Alternatively, visit the Crimestoppers website or contact the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.