Ipswich: Have-a-go-hero praised by judge for helping capture would-be car thief

A have-a-go hero has been praised today for capturing a man after hearing a woman’s screams as he tried to steal her car.

Neil Sharman was awarded �300 for his bravery after pursuing Kevin Clarke and detaining him until police arrived following the incident in Ipswich town centre.

Jailing Clarke, of London Road, Ipswich, Judge John Devaux told the town’s crown court: “I don’t want to leave this case without referring to Mr Sharman.

“I note from his statement he was walking with his wife and says ‘I realised this male must have committed some type of criminal act and I decided to try and stop him’.

“This is a very public-spirited action, and I think he should receive a High Sheriff’s Award and a certificate of commendation. In these days I think any sum below �250 is insulting, so I will say �300.”

The incident occurred around noon on February 13. A woman had parked her Honda CRV in the Cromwell Square car park and was about to get out of the vehicle to buy a ticket when Clarke jumped into the front passenger seat.

The 47-year-old demanded the woman hand over the car keys. When she gave them to him, he pushed her out of the vehicle, causing her to hit her head on the door. Clarke then attempted to clamber from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat and put the keys in the ignition.

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The woman tried to get back in the car to grab her handbag from the passenger side, and the struggle continued.

Mr Sharman heard the shouting and saw Clarke running away.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said a chase ensued during which Clarke pushed over some wheelie bins in an effort to prevent Mr Sharman capturing him. Undeterred, he continued his pursuit and grabbed Clarke.

Mr Sharman, with the assistance of two other men, walked Clarke back to the car park, where he was held until police arrived.

Clarke was sentenced to four months imprisonment for common assault, and a further two months to run concurrently for interfering with a motor vehicle. He pleaded guilty to both offences.

After the case Superintendent Martin Ransome, of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “There were a number of people in the vicinity of this crime whose actions led to the arrest and charge of Kevin Clarke and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.

“Neil’s role in the arrest was particularly important and brave, as he chased and apprehended a potentially violent and dangerous offender. He is very deserving of the reward.”