A football fan from Hartlepool has told how his dream day at Wembley went from bad to worse when he was caught up in a suspected armed robbery.
Michael Gell, 23, from Bishop Cuthbert, had been at the national stadium watching his favourite team, Middlesbrough play Norwich City in the Championship play-off final on May 25.
It was crazy – our day went from bad to worse.Michael Gell
He thought his day could not get any worse when Boro’s hopes of promotion to the Premier League were dashed by a 2-0 defeat.
But the dad-of-one’s life flashed before his eyes on a visit to KFC in Cricklewood, North West London, at about 11.30pm. He was with friend Anthony Kemp, of Thornaby, and described the events which followed as ‘crazy’.
Michael, who is engaged to Katie Burge and a father to Mia, two, said: “It was crazy – our day went from bad to worse.
“We had been drowning our sorrows and decided we would go to KFC because it was only a couple of doors down.
“We went in and ordered our food, but when we went to leave, something made us both turn around.
“A man wearing a balaclava was at the counter and had pulled a gun out from his trousers. He was shouting at the staff to open the safe.
“I didn’t register what had happened at first. I just couldn’t believe what was going on.
“We then tried to leave, but there was a guy on the door, who was also wearing a balaclava, holding a knife.
“I tried to pretend that I didn’t know what was going on at first, so I asked him if he had any tomato sauce.
“The guy on the door asked if we were cool and said ‘are you two going to hold the door?’
“We said yes and after he took a couple of steps we just ran.
“I was shouting at my friend ‘run, Red, run’ as Red is his nickname.”
Michael and Anthony raced back to their hotel to tell reception staff to call the police, but the Hartlepool man’s loved ones did not believe the tale when he later told them what had happened.
He added: “Katie called me and asked where I was, because I hadn’t text her.
“I told her what had happened, and she didn’t believe me at first.
“I had to put the police on the phone for her to believe me! Katie, my mum and dad were very worried.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed an 18-year-old man from Tottenham had been charged with two armed robberies and is due to appear at Harrow Crown Court on June 12.