‘Have-a-go hero’ may lose sight after facing van thieves

John Adams may lose the sight of one eye after he tried to prevent thieves from stealing his van near his home in Rye.

The 43-year-old victim, one of the Environment Agency’s operations management team, has undergone an operation at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, and he is set to undergo further operations in the hope of saving his sight.

Police Chief Inspector Katy Woolford: “We are shocked at the violent attack on John in this quiet residential area. He suffered serious injuries and may lose the sight of his right eye. We are doing all we can to trace these men, whose criminal behaviour has led to his appalling injuries.

“John was heroic in confronting the men but we would urge people not to intervene but to call 999 in a similar situation.”

John was told men were trying to break into his Toyota Hilux van in Rye Harbour Road just before midnight on 11 August. He went out to investigate and challenged four men. He was forced to jump over a low wall out of the way of their moving car before being shot at with an air rifle. He suffered pellet wounds to his face and went to neighbours for help. The callous thieves then towed away his white van, with Environment Agency written in green, and made off. As they drove off the van hit the rear of their small car causing damage including smashing a rear light.

John, speaking from his hospital bed, said: “No I didn’t do the right thing. With hindsight I shouldn’t have done what I did, I should have stayed indoors and let the police deal with it.

“If I had known that there were four of them and that they were tooled up, I would never have gone out after them.

“I’ve lost an eye for the sake of a vehicle. Don’t do it, it’s just not worth it. I’ve learnt my lesson, resolve it afterwards. I’ve lost an eye, it could have been my life.”

CI Katy Woolford said: “We have a number of witnesses who have come forward but we are keen to talk to anyone who saw the van being towed. It is very distinctively marked and it might have caught people’s eye especially at that time of night. We know there were four men involved, one of whom was wearing a grey tracksuit, and we would appeal to anyone who has information to contact us.

“The van is being forensically examined after being found in Charing, Kent, about an hour of being stolen. Officers have carried out house to house enquiries and extra patrols are being made for reassurance.

“Extensive enquiries are being made and I would urge anyone with information to contact detectives on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”