Stabbed bank robbery hero: 'It didn't hurt'
Have-a-go hero Ronald Walker foiled a bank heist, tackling the teen robber and receiving a stab wound for his troubles.
The 68-year-old former prison guard was left with 7cm deep gash in his back
But Walker shrugged off the wound: "It didn't hurt," he declared.
The would-be robber Khalid Ford-Gardiner, who was 19 at the time he burst into the ASB Bank in Papakura and is now 20, was sentenced to jail on Friday after being found guilty of the robbery.
Walker did not go to court to see him, but at home reflected back on the day he stepped up to stop the robbery.
On February 11 Walker was completing a transaction at the ASB bank and waiting for the teller to come back when he noticed Ford-Gardiner standing around wearing a thick jacket. He didn't see the knife.
Ford-Gardiner hadn't said a word to anybody but appeared nervous.
"I said to myself, it's got to be a bank robbery."
What made Walker believe it was a bank robbery? He nods at the word "intuition".
"Yeah. At first I thought he was going for the toilet, but then I thought, it's got to be a robbery."
Walker took a step forward, then a step back, then went for a flying tackle with his right shoulder.
"I just did it, I had a crack at tackling him," Walker said. "It could have been embarrassing if it was just a normal customer looking for a toilet."
"But it was like hitting a brick wall. It didn't make sense. I was in a crumpled heap on the floor and I thought, 's--- he's a hard b------'. Next thing I felt blood gushing out of my back."
Ford-Gardiner had stabbed him between the shoulder blades.
"I saw him running out the door and hang a right and then the police arrived."
Ford-Gardiner was quickly caught by police and Walker was taken to hospital where he had to pay for some of his treatment.
"It was only $20 but it p----- me off more than getting stabbed."
He was discharged the same day, because "I was busy. I had things to do."
Eight months later as Ford-Gardiner stood in the dock of Manukau District Court to be sentenced, Walker hoped he would be given six years jail.
"But six years doesn't mean six years in our system. He'll get out before that."
However, Ford-Gardiner, after being found guilty of aggravated robbery, aggravated injury, robbery by assault, common assault and methamphetamine possession, was jailed for a total of three years and six months.
Judge Anna-Marie Skellern also gave him a three strikes warning but did not state a minimum non-parole period.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Adrian Heffernan says police are happy with the sentence; it is in-line with what the prosecution expected.
The hero pensioner said he did not want to be at the sentencing. He's hard of hearing and would not have been able to understand what was going on, he said. But he promised he'll be at any future parole hearings for Ford-Gardiner.
Walker, a prison guard of 21 years, knows what Ford-Gardiner is in for in jail.
Although Walker's wife loves calling him a 'plucky pensioner', Walker has had successful careers, both in the New Zealand Army and with the Department of Corrections as a jail guard, spending most of his time at the embattled former Serco-run prison at Mt Eden.
"From working in the prison, you act without thinking."
He's since retired and continues living in Papakura where he manages several of his own rental properties.
He received a commendation from police for his efforts and was recognised at a special ceremony not long after the attack, but is incredulous that people still want to talk to him about his heroics.
"I had to do something. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror the next day and think 'there's a gutless b------," Walker said.