Flashback: Polite firemen, a cinema heist and a drive-by shooting

A black couple were the victims of a hate crime as they left the Beehive Lane Harvester 20 years ago

A black couple were the victims of a hate crime as they left the Beehive Lane Harvester 20 years ago this week. Photo: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A look back at the biggest stories from this week 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

1956: Robert Paleson, a 20-year-old apprentice carpenter, was left rubbing the sleep from his eyes and looking on in shock when he was awoken by a gang of smoke-grimed firefighters in his bedroom.

“Excuse us,” the cheery group told him. “There’s been a fire.”

They then explained to Robert that while he had been asleep at his home in Stoneleigh Road, Clayhall, neighbours had been forced to break into his home after spotting a blaze in the living room.

Afterwards, Robert thanked quick-thinking 13-year-old Sandra Stevenson from across the street, who had spotted the fire first and rushed to tell her father.

Ms Stevenson very probably saved Robert’s life, as he was heavily asleep in a rear upstairs bedroom at the time.

1977: Three masked raiders attacked an attendant at a cinema on Monday night, forcing him to hand over £125 from a safe.

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When Eric Lane opened the door on his way home stocking-masked thieves broke in and hit him around the head with a glass bottle.

He was then forced to open the safe before the gang left him to alert the authorities.

Mr Lane was taken to King George Hospital where he was treated for facial injuries.

“The attack in this robbery was completely unjustified and vicious,” said a South Woodford policeman. “The victim offered no threat to the thieves.”

1997: A romantic evening at a restaurant ended in a drive-by shooting for a 28-year-old man when he and his wife were peppered with plastic pellets after their meal.

The couple were leaving The Harvester in Beehive Lane, Gants Hill, when a man sitting in the back of a passing silver coloured Ford Galaxy opened fire with what is believed was a toy gun.

The pellets caused small bumps on the man’s right eye and his wife’s neck and both were treated at the scene for their injuries.

Thankfully neither was taken to hospital.

Police were treating the assault as racially motivated because the gunman was white and the couple were black.