UK & World News
Robbery Death: 'Customers Held Suspect Down'
A masked armed robber who collapsed and died after being disarmed and pinned down by customers in a bookies has been named by police as Alan Levers.
The 50-year-old was believed to be wearing a gas mask and holding a fake gun when he entered a Ladbrokes branch on Crownhill Road in Plymouth, Devon, shortly before 7pm on Friday night.
Customers managed to disarm Mr Levers and held him on the floor while others raised the alarm, police said.
Officers then arrested Levers, who was already unconscious, but he was later declared dead.
Plymouth police commander Chief Superintendent Andy Bickley said the gun had been examined and appeared to be an imitation pistol.
He added that the four men in the betting shop at the time of the incident have been helping police with their inquiries and that no-one has been arrested in relation to the incident.
"I can share with you that the firearm has been initially examined by a police firearms officer and it appears to be an imitation pistol, though this still needs to be verified," he said.
"I would like to add, however, that there would have been no way of knowing this at the time of the incident. The actions taken by members of the public in the shop were brave and showed a disregard for their own safety."
Witness David Walker, 55, from West Park, Plymouth, said he walked in just five minutes after the botched robbery happened.
He said: "I went in about 6.55pm, to put a bet on the football. When I went in there, they were on the floor, they were scuffling on the floor, I just thought it was just a fight or something.
"There were the two men, customers I think, on top of him, and the bloke on the floor. There was a bloke behind the counter and an old guy with glasses standing around.
"The bloke behind the counter told me they weren't taking any bets and I had to leave."
He added: "I didn't see their faces, as they were holding the guy down at the back of the shop. I couldn't see any mask and there wasn't any physical movement, they were just holding him."
Ivor Green, 67, also from West Park, said he was not surprised at all that the customers had leapt to the defence of the staff.
"They would do that in a shop like this, it is our betting shop," he said.
"The staff become your friends, it's a little family, and it's no different to a member of your family being threatened. The guys in there would be protective of them."
Mr Bickley said that Mr Levers' family were being supported by police and that their thoughts and condolences are with them.
He added that a detailed, locally-led investigation has begun with support from major crime team detectives.
He appealed for other people in the immediate area around the time of the incident or anyone that had just left the store a short time earlier to contact the police on 101 or through Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
The witnesses who were inside the betting shop at the time of the incident are being offered full support by the police.
The case has been referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
what do you think?
"its our bookies" hmmm we wonder why the country is the way it is. Bookmakers target the working class areas to boost their corporate finances. When you have people with this mentality to protect "their bookies" then it makes you wonder if its too late. I am all against criminals but the bookies fall into that category too, so having local vigilantes now fighting on their behalf confirms how brainwashed we are becoming.
James R McCulloch
I know exactly what you are saying. It's just that the rest of us don't know what to make of it.
No one forces anyone to gamble. The high streets are full of bookies and tattoo and piercing shops but no one ends up being pulled in.
Freeman i agree. These robbers prey on the poorest and offer the dream of untold wealth to people who have never known anything but poverty. The phrase "our bookies" made me cringe - as if it was some valuable social resource to be maintained and cherised for the good of the neighbourhood
couldn't agree more///////////
Well fair play to the people in the shop for taking action. The death of the man is obviously horrible but about time people were allowed to defend themselves in situations such as this. He would prob still be alive if he didnt try to commit a VIOLENT CRIME
Colin people are allowed to defend themselves. We are all allowed to use reasonable force to stop a criminal hurting us. It's been enshrined in law for many years. In some very well publicised cases it's been the amount of force used that has been the issue, not that victims defended themselves
Freeman u r spot on although the guy was gonna do a blag its wrong these people have not been charged they technically commited manslaughter makes u wonder if these people are masons and it is not their bookmakers they assume it is cos they spend money there but the owners don't care bout them the Muppets they don't realise they care only about money
Err the guy walked in with a gun. How are the others to know it's a fake gun!? Everyone would defend themselves. Serves the looser right.
Man goes in shop with firearm. He is over powered and dies. Manslaughter???? Sounds like poetic justice to me! Whatever you think of bookmakers is irrelevant. You can choose not to make a bet so why blame them? How were they to know the firearm was not real? Give these people an award!
Apparently the criminal who died had a heart condition. Moral of the story don't go out theiving with Heart problems, it is bad for your health. And as for the contributions from Freeman & Paul lets hope they are never called up for jury service with such unusual views
no Dave he was a victim of this fascist state
Stephen. And it was all your Auntie Margarets fault I know
well dave yes
Dave my views may be unusual to you, and as for jury service, I hope I never get called up too, so at least we agree on that point. Do you see my point!! Its good for people to be able to have different views and also agree on other points. Its not right for people to be influenced by corporations whose sole purpose is for financial gain.
Freeman. You are perfectly entitled to your opinion and these pages often contain a wide variety of differing views. Far too many people on here when faced with an opinion they disagree with start slinging insults around. I don't. Thats why I described your view as unusual
Dave;I didnt know the criminal had a heart condition. Still, he was armed and in my opinion was dangerous. Stephen still blames Thatcher and the Government bless his little sailor suit.
Dave and GillieLouise, he had previous for assault and burglary too. Let out of prison too early in my opinion. Be it a real gun or an imitation gun! It causes fear! Hopefully Orange won't remove this comment....
Jasmin. They haven't yet. Have you got friends in high places?
Be interesting to find out cause of death as unlikely to die from being held down
Agreed Shirley, possibly a heart condition or similar ??. If so, a bit silly to try a stunt like this...........
The fool wore a gas mask, this would have inhibited his breathing, that allied to chest compressions could have attributed to his death. Bottom line, he should'nt have been there with a gun with the intention of robbing the place. Sadly, he got what he deserved.
He deserve to be punished and he deserved to be stopped but surely not to die?
If you go into a shop threatening peaple with a gun i think you have to be expecting trouble.in many countries this man would have been shot outright.the men who tackled this man deserve praise.though you have to feel sorry for this mans family.
this is a victim of this government . the man had no food job no money no hope .in desperation . he did this .R.I.P
Total rubbish as always from you.
don't like the truth
Stephen, How can you possibly know that??. It does not mention the robbers circumstances anywhere in the report..........
Have you ever been burgled or robbed Stephen? I have, quite a few times. Forgive me if my heart doesn't bleed but the fact is Cameron did not provide the gun he used to threaten unarmed people, nor did Brown or Blair for that matter. He took a chance, didn't work. His own doing. THAT is the truth.
Gordon it was on sky news
lorgar get a dog .just helping you
Lol, Stephen. Being a complete anti Thatcherite, i should give you a thumbs up. But betting shops get held up regardless of the government at the time.
Can't afford a dog as i'm paying to replace the possessions your friends took.
Stephen, I cannot argue with you since I don't have Sky but I do find it difficult to believe since no other News Broadcasts (BBC or Channel Four for example) mentioned this..............
Was he a friend of yours stephen?... you seem to know a lot about him. How on earth you can blame the Government for his actions I do not know. Perhaps every pensioner in this country should go and rob a bookie?????
Utterly baffled here.
Gillie. You get the 12 bore walking stick and I will drive the getaway Zimmer frame
R.I.P old friend
Such should be the fate of all thieving toe-rags.
here here Lorgar!!!! and lets stone the speeding drivers too!!
Far too harsh Lorgar!
Sounds like his heart gave out after he started to panic, knowing he'd been had.
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The full facts aren't yet known but there is no excuse for violent robbery. Wouldn't be surprised if mental health issues are behind this 'robbery' with a fake gun. People who are mentally sick cant be held responsible for their actions. And mental illness can strike down ANY human being at ANY time
This man paid the ultimate price for his actions, so there is no need to defend or berate him. My sympathies do go out to his family and also those involved in his death. Once more we are seeing people against people under the influence of corporate companies who really do not have any concern for any of us whatsoever. Their only purpose is for financial reward. It is not just bookmakers but as this happened within a bookmakers then I feel it is fair to use them as an example. Why do you not see bookmakers in more affluent areas? Why do their shop fronts always declare what you would win but not what you will lose? People please try and awaken from this disregard for all of us as living human beings and remember that every single living person is above any corporation.
Agree with your comments and you are so right about bookies taking advantage of those with the least money. I'd shut every bookie in the country and confiscate their immoral earnings
Louisa. I wouldn't know how to put a bet on and have no intention of learning. Out of control gambling is a fearsome addiction akin to drugs & alcohol. But don't expect anything but platitudes from govt as there is too much tax money at stake.
Louisa & Freeman, You won't stop betting by closing down the bookmakers, all you will do is drive it back underground. In the old days, I remember bookies used to take bets on street corners while keeping an eye open for the police At least now, they have to pay taxes on their earnings. I'm afraid people like to gamble and there will always be those who cannot control themselves whether it is legal or not.......
Gordon, my grandmother was arrested for running bets up a close ( Glaswegian for tenement stairs/lobby)in the days when it was illegal - she was a spirited lady and i come from a long line of punters! I would not bet a penny on anything and you are probably right about it being diven underground. I just hate the way it's legal and the misery it causes makes money for the bookies and the government
Louisa, fancy that, Although bon in Glasgow, I was raised in an Edinburgh tenement in the Fifties (can't remember any further back than that!). There used to be a Bookie opposite my Grandmother's housing estate every day, he was one of the first to open a shop when it became legal. I agree with your comments re the misery it causes people but at least now that it's legal, you don't get the heavy mob coming round trying to collect debts. That sometimes used to happen in the old days...........
Sorry Louisa, That should read "born in Glasgow"
Gordon, Glasgow, the" dear green place", is "bon" anyway! ;-)
It still happens anyway Gordon, as illegal loan sharks are at an all time high in deprived areas and seem pretty untouchable. Legs are still being broken, i'm afraid. True story about my granny by the way. A lovely woman and a matriach who looked after her own and other people's children. But she had a lifelong passion for the gee gees!
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People are berated for standing by and allowing violent crime to go unchallenged. Sometimes you just can't win.
....and whether the ''violent crime'' is real or imagined, no-one could have known that the gun was harmless.
Yes - a loaded gun or not - people weren't to know. I remember after a robbery close to where I am, the perpetrators were given 4 years each for pointing an object at a post office worker from under a jumper, terrifying her. At the trial, it was revealed the object was, in fact, a wooden fish! Leading people to only believe you may have a gun is always punished, and rightly so.
I don't think they did anything wrong by restraining him. Never would blame anyone for that as long as they resrict themselves to restraining and not beating up, which doesn't seem to be the case here
Agree with you all. What I found puzzling is how Freeman managed to turn an attempted armed robbery into a dig at corporate companies influencing individuals
Lets see the bookie`s costumers jump on Bob Diamond for his corrupt banking robberies, still a long time to come to justice.As for the armed thief a sad soul going down the wrong road.RIP