Armed robber who took on new identity in Wyberton arrested after 13 years on run from police

A violent robber dubbed The Running Man who evaded custody for almost 13 years is back behind bars after police discovered he had set up a new life for himself in Wyberton.
The Running Man Ambrose O'NeilThe Running Man Ambrose O'Neil
The Running Man Ambrose O'Neil

A team of officers carried out an early morning raid on the home in Causeway Ambrose Nicholas O’Neil was living in on Friday last week.

O’Neil viciously attacked an antiques dealer threatened to kill a 67-year-old man in a terrifying robbery in Seagrave, Leicestershire, on 10 February 2007.

Following his arrest O’Neill attended the first day of his trial at Leicester Crown Court in July 2008 but then failed to turn up and despite being sentenced in his absence to eight years in prison in December 2008 he has yet to serve a single day – until now.

PC James GillPC James Gill
PC James Gill

He was dubbed 'The Running Man' by the national media because of his ability to evade capture, but the tenaciousness of PC James Gill led to his eventual recapture.

A surprised O’Neil was taken into custody when response officers from Gedling in Nottinghamshire with support from Lincolnshire Police raided the house.

O'Neill was taken straight to prison to start his eight-year prison sentence and will appear before Leicester Crown Court at a date to be confirmed, where the sentence could be extended.

Officers also arrested a 41-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in police custody.

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.

PC Gill works on the 'wanted squad' which tracks down outstanding offenders, said he was extremely proud to have helped catch O'Neill after all this time.

"He is known as 'The Running Man'. We knew he had changed his appearance and lived in an area where people do not know him and he had an assumed identity," he said.

"He was laughing at the police so we were determined to do everything to find him.

"It has taken an incredible amount of work to find him. It's making these people know their time on the run is over."

During the offence, O’Neill, now 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 open his safe but left 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, Notts, but the trail went cold.

But PC James Gill and an intelligence officer took it upon themselves to launch ‘Operation Gladiolus’ in December last year as they continued to work tirelessly to track him down.

A key piece of intelligence that proved to be the start of a major breakthrough was an anonymous tip-off through Crimestoppers which suggested Ambrose may be living with a woman in the Wyberton area.

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.

PC Gill said: “We are delighted with this arrest and it’s taken a lot of hard work to finally reach this point.

“O’Neill had been wanted for a long time and was particularly difficult to find once we received this fresh piece of intelligence we didn’t hesitate to act on it.

“I’m delighted that it paid off and that we’ve now been able to get justice for the victims of this horrific crime.”

Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, added: “I’d like to commend the excellent work and dogged determination of our officers who went above and beyond in hunting for O’Neill and getting him arrested.

“It’s a shining example of the commitment shown by our officers to ensure criminals are brought to account and justice is delivered to victims of crime.

“Once our officers sank their teeth into this operation they wouldn’t let go. Without their tenacity this fantastic result wouldn’t have been possible.

“They left no stone unturned and a result O’Neill now at last must face the consequences of his actions.

"I'd also like to thank our colleagues at Leicestershire and Lincolnshire for their support during this investigation.”