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Penygraig: Honour for man who died trying to stop killer

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1] [2]

Image source, Michael Smith

Image caption,

John Rees was stabbed while his wife Eunice sat in a car outside

A man who died attempting to save a nurse from an armed assailant in a shop has been recognised for his bravery.

John Rees, 88, intervened to stop Zara Radcliffe from attacking shoppers in Penygraig, Rhondda on 5 May 2020.

Lisa Way and Ayette Bounouri will also get Queen's gallantry medals for attempting to prevent her onslaught.

Both women said they were honoured to be recognised but it was "bitter sweet" given that Mr Rees was killed.

The 30-year-old also pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of three others.

Mr Rees intervened when Radcliffe, who had schizophrenia, began attacking shoppers at a Co-op store.

He was at the shop counter when he saw her enter and begin stabbing at passing customers with a kitchen knife.

Image source, Ayette Bounouri | Lisa Way

Image caption,

Ayette Bounouri and Lisa Way said they were honoured to be recognised but it was "bitter sweet"

He took hold of Radcliffe's right arm and placed himself between her and nurse Gaynor Saurin while trying to defuse the situation.

But as Radcliffe lunged forward, Mr Rees fell backwards.

Mrs Way, who recounted the incident with Mrs Bounouri in an interview on BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, said there was "just no talking to" Radcliffe.

Trying to help Mr Rees, Mrs Way grabbed the assailant's arm while Mrs Bounouri tried to use a shopping basket to disarm her.

As they tried to distract Radcliffe, she lunged at Mrs Way several times with the knife before stabbing her, leaving "blood running down my neck".

Image caption,

Zara Radcliffe admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility

Mrs Bounouri said she grabbed Mr Rees by his jacket and dragged him from the front to the back of the shop to try to "get him to safety" but the attacker followed and Mrs Bounouri tried to fight her off.

Mrs Way described how she ran out of the shop "screaming for someone to try and help us" and she called the police who arrived on the scene quickly.

Despite their bravery Mr Rees was stabbed and bludgeoned to death with two wine bottles and a fire extinguisher.

Image caption,

The attack unfolded in a Co-op in Penygraig, Rhondda Cynon Taf

The two women have since since become friends, along with Ms Saurin.

"It's interesting how the worst situation can bring people together," said Mrs Bounouri.

Mrs Way agreed, adding: "We've got each other."

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said the three "showed true heroism by standing up to protect others".

The awards form part of the final civilian gallantry list to be approved by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

They recognise the bravery of people who have put themselves in danger trying to save lives.

The three are among 15 named in the 2023 Civilian Gallantry List, published by the Cabinet Office on Saturday.

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