SLAIN Hastings jeweller Dermot O’Toole has been awarded the Star of Courage in the Australian Bravery Awards.
The awards announced over the weekend recognise those who put their own lives at risk to protect the lives or property of others.
Mr O’Toole, 64, died while protecting his wife, Bridget, during an armed robbery at their shop in High St in July 2013.
The couple were working at the back when they heard the front door open. When Mrs O’Toole went into the shop she was confronted by a man in disguise approaching the counter.
The offender – later identified as Gavin Perry, 26, of Crib Point – yelled at her as he approached with a large carving knife. In the ensuing struggle she was pushed onto a glass display counter in the middle of the shop which shattered under the impact.
Hearing the noise, Mr O’Toole rushed from the back to help his wife of 41 years, who was screaming.
Mr O’Toole wrestled with Perry before slipping onto his back as he attempted to fend of the attack. He was stabbed and later died of his wounds.
Perry – who was said to be high on the drug ice – further assaulted Ms O’Toole before stealing $200 in rings and fleeing.
Police later charged Perry with murder, armed robbery and intentionally causing serious injury. He is now serving 27 years’ jail for his crimes.
By his actions, Mr O’Toole displayed conspicuous courage.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove told the investiture: “Sadly, there are those whose brave acts mean they are no longer with us. To their families, I express the nation’s sadness at your loss but pride in your loved one’s actions.
“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to assist others in need.”
Mr O’Toole is survived by Bridget and their sons Dale, Christian and Trent.