A violent robber who was snared by a dedicated police officer from Arnold after being on the run for 13 years has been given an extended prison sentence.
Ambrose Nicholas O’Neill – dubbed ‘The Running Man’ by the national media because of his ability to evade capture – threatened to kill a 67-year-old man during a terrifying robbery in Seagrave, Leicestershire, on February 10, 2007.
He was finally locked up last month after tenacious Gedling police officer PC James Gill made it a personal battle to bring him to justice.
Back in July 2008, O’Neill attended the first day of his trial at Leicester Crown Court but then failed to turn up for the rest of the case and despite being sentenced in his absence to eight years in prison in December 2008 he had yet to serve any time – until now.
O’Neill was last month taken straight to prison to start his eight-year term and now he has now been given an extra eight months to serve after pleading guilty to failing to appear in court during a hearing at Leicester Crown Court.
O’Neill was finally brought to book on 22 January 2021 after PC James Gill, an award-winning officer commended in 2019 for his dedication to catching wanted criminals – even in his spare time – picked up O’Neill’s case and made it his mission to get him in cuffs.
PC Gill put in hours of dedicated work, including working extended hours in his free time, to follow up every thread of intelligence.
Recently he was also supported by another officer who works in covert local intelligence and efforts were stepped up as they homed in on their target.
Officers carried out the arrest in the early hours of the morning and finally got a surprised O’Neill in custody. Response officers from Gedling helped carry out the arrest, with support from Lincolnshire Police.
Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It was thanks to excellent work and dogged determination of our officers who went above and beyond in hunting for O’Neill and getting him arrested.
“This was a nasty attack and I’m delighted that all the hard work paid off and that we were able to finally get justice for the victims.
“After evading justice for so long I am pleased that O’Neill will now be staying behind bars for longer and will now have even more time to reflect on his violent behaviour.”
Officers also arrested a 41-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender. She was subsequently released under investigation.
How the ‘Running Man’ was finally tracked down…
During the offence back in 2007, O’Neill, now aged 42, knocked on the victim’s front door posing as a pizza delivery man before pushing him over and punching him in the face. He demanded for the victim to open his safe before leaving empty-handed.
Leicestershire Police launched a man-hunt to find O’Neill after he skipped court in 2008 while colleagues from Nottinghamshire Police also carried out extensive enquiries, as his last known address was in Arnold, but after detectives had exhausted all lines of enquiry the trail went cold.
But determined PC James Gill and an intelligence officer took it upon themselves to launch ‘Operation Gladiolus’ in December 2020 as they continued to work tirelessly in an effort to track O’Neill down, with support from response colleagues on Rota 3.
One piece of recent intelligence that proved to be the start of a major breakthrough in the case was an anonymous tip-off through Crimestoppers which suggested Ambrose may be living with a woman in the Wyberton area, near Boston, in Lincolnshire.
The information didn’t include an exact address so the officers worked relentlessly to develop the intelligence and used a number of tactics to pinpoint his home in Causeway, Wyberton, so they were confident they had found their man.
PC Gill even turned up for work in his own time at 2am the day before the arrest to finalise the details because he was so excited at the prospect of getting O’Neill in custody after all this time.