A FORMER rugby league player has been hailed a hero by a judge for rescuing an elderly man from attackers despite being a convicted thief.
Dubbed ‘The Watchman’, Leslie Fishwick – who played for Leigh RLFC in the early 1970s – posed as an antiques dealer to steal from old people in a crime spree lasting more than a decade.
Fishwick was called a hero by Judge Peter Davies for chasing off two men who had gagged, slapped and attempted to tie up 88-year-old war hero William Glover in his Bolton home in May.
Mr Fishwick, aged 62, from Breightmet, chased the men and detained one until police arrived.
The two men were jailed by Bolton Crown Court for the attack.
Mr Fishwick’s heroics come seven years after he was jailed for five years by the same court following a 10-year crime spree.
In 2005 he admitted he had tricked his way into the homes of scores of pensioners in Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, Bacup and across the north west by posing as an antiques dealer before stealing watches, clocks and cash.
His victims were aged between 78 to 94.
Police found £96,000 in cash in his house and £56,000 in a bank account after he was arrested, and believe he was responsible for more than 100 burglaries.
In December 2005 he admitted nine counts of burglary and asked for a further 17 offences, which he carried out in Lancashire and West Yorkshire between 1995 and 2005, to be taken into consideration.
Now working as a painter and decorator, Mr Fishwick refused to comment on his past or the fact he had turned his life around.
He said it had been ‘just instinct’ to help Mr Glover and said he was ‘no hero’.
Mr Glover, who served in the RAF for five years during the Second World War, said: “It was lucky Leslie came in.
“He pulled them off, I think he is a hero.”