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Have-a-go hero died saving another

PUBLISHED: 09:15 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 July 2010

Frank McGarahan was the man who stepped in to save a stranger.

His bravery touched people across the country, and led to calls at last year's Conservative party conference to back have-a-go heroes prepared to stand up to criminals.

Frank McGarahan was the man who stepped in to save a stranger.

His bravery touched people across the country, and led to calls at last year's Conservative party conference to back have-a-go heroes prepared to stand up to criminals.

A Lithuanian man was being attacked by a large group of men on Guildhall Hill in Norwich, his girlfriend screaming: “There are only two of us and a whole gang of you.”

It is a situation in which natural justice demands that someone would step in to help and protect those who were outnumbered. Mr McGarahan, his cousin and brother did just that. Many of us would have walked on by, unwilling to take the risk of becoming involved in a confrontation.

A report last September from the think-tank Reform found that Britons were less likely than people in other European countries to step in if they see a crime taking place.

Mr McGarahan is not the first to suffer terrible consequences from being a “have-a-go hero”. In 2007 Garry Newlove, 47, was attacked outside his home in Cheshire after confronting a gang who were vandalising vehicles. He died from a head injury two days later.

In November last year 65-year-old lorry driver Peter Bryan died after being hit with a blunt instrument when he chased youths who vandalised his car. In January this year former darts professional Deka Kennedy, 29, was stabbed to death after stepping in to defend a woman being beaten up in the street in Tyneside.

Lord Mayor of Norwich Eve Collishaw said: “It is very hard to stand by if you are a good citizen and see someone else being attacked. I couldn't say to someone whether they should get involved or not. It is the police's job, but they are not always there when you need them.

“It is nice that people will step in to protect others. That is what we have to do. But obviously people shouldn't put themselves in danger if there is a gun or a knife involved.”

Another hero of the night was doorman Darryl Lawton, 42, who was working on the door at the nearby Spearmint Rhino club when he heard the fracas and ran to help. He was injured himself. When he was later given a local hero award, he said: “The real hero was Frank McGarahan. He left us a legacy and moral which is that you do not walk away, you do whatever you can and then we can all be heroes and help make everywhere safer.”

He has since paid a touching tribute to Mr McGarahan on an internet memorial website. He wrote: “If only I could have got there sooner Frank... The people of Norwich and myself will be indebted to you for the rest of our lives.

“You were a true brave hero and citizen to us and I will never forget the moment. I hope I can live by your legacy and moral for what time I have left and indeed for your memory.”

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