• Stephen Ball jailed for five years following intervention from public.
  • Armed robber's planned escaped thwarted after not knowing to pull instead of push shop door.

Members of the public have been praised after they helped capture an armed robber who carried out a raid at a shop in Dudley.

Stephen Ball, 31, has been jailed for five years after he robbed a Spar on Abbey Road, Lower Gornal, armed with a baseball bat while his accomplice threatened staff with a machete.

Described by police as a "bungling robber", Ball and the other suspect stormed into the shop on the evening of 23 October, with the second man demanding to be taken into the warehouse section.

Ball then jumped behind the counter and started to empty cigarettes and tobacco into a bag.

His accomplice then fled with the money, but dropped it because it was too heavy. He escaped in a waiting Rover and is yet to be traced.

Stephen Ball
Stephen Ball has now been jailed for five years West Midlands Police

Meanwhile, Ball, realising he was on his own, also tried to escape but was foiled when he tried to push instead of pull open to shop's front door.

Members of the public then kept the door shut from the other side before Ball smashed it with his baseball bat, showering one man with glass and forcing others to back off.

When he eventually made it out the shop, Ball then smashed the window of a woman's car as she sat outside the shop, leaving her with cuts to the head.

Another member of the public arrived and punched Ball in the face and then sat on him until police arrived and arrested him.

Ball, of Turner Street, Tipton, pleaded guilty to robbery, criminal damage, assault, affray and possession of an offensive weapon and has now been sentenced to five years in jail.

DC Cal Sanders, from West Midlands Police CID, said: "Ball has received a substantial prison sentence for committing this offence, which had a level of violence.

"I wish to thank the brave members of the public who helped detain a violent offender until police arrived.

"This incident shook staff and members of the public alike and I hope that the sentence will go some way to easing their nerves."

The judge also awarded £100 to three members of the public who helped detain Ball.

 Stephen Ball
Members of the public hold the door to thwart Stephen Ball's escape West Midlands Police