A HEROIC off duty detective who tackled an armed robber to the ground has been honoured with a top bravery award.

Det Con Joanne Smith from Suffolk Constabulary had been to a yoga class in June last year when she saw two men armed with metal bars break into Chimes jewellery store in Trinity Street, Colchester.

The pair had planned to escape on motorbikes they had parked nearby, but someone had snatched the keys to thwart their getaway.

They threatened staff at a nearby tearoom to try to get the keys back and were chased down by Ms Smith and members of the public.

She managed to grab Simon Jacobs who was later found to have had a watch concealed in his backside.

Gazette: Robbery in Trinity StreetRobbery in Trinity Street

He was sentenced to 32 months in jail at Chelmsford Crown Court last year.

Thousands of pounds worth of jewellery was returned to the shop because of Ms Smith’s intervention and she was the winner for the eastern region at the Police Bravery Awards which honours officers from all over the country.

She said: “I feel very humbled to be nominated and I didn’t feel I was doing anything special on the day - just what anyone else would have done.”

“I wasn’t expecting it at all - I was actually quite calm because I thought there was no chance.

“Everyone in that room deserves it so I am honoured to have won it.”

Essex officers PC Avive Martin and PC Nick Hayter were also nominated.

The pair were called to a house burglary in Wivenhoe, where the raider was still inside.

He burst through the front door and ended up pointing a realistic imitation firearm at them both and demanded they get on the floor.

Mr Hayter courageously stepped between the gunman and his colleague who was just four days into her role.

The suspect then ran off and the officers gave chase but lost him.

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “These awards highlight the incredible bravery that officers protecting our country show every single day.

“I am immensely proud to have shared this day with such humble and brave officers and their families.

“They are a credit to the service and I am proud to call them colleagues.”

The overall winner was Warwickshire officer PC Andrew Dear who crawled into a gap beneath an overturned car at serious risk of exploding to rescue a man with a severe head injury.

He scrambled into a gap as small as ten inches so that an airway could be maintained and had to take the weight of some of the car on his back before paramedics rushed to the scene.