This Tooting builder was hailed a hero after stepping in to protect an endangered woman’s life, but instead of being thanked by police he was rewarded with a night in the cells.

Gregory McLean was arrested after allegedly saving his female friend from a brick-weilding thug in Topsham Road on Friday, August 28.

Because he was holding a scaffolding pole at the time, police claimed he had an offensive weapon – but dropped the charges the next day.

To add insult to injury, he was placed in a cell near the man he bravely confronted, who kept him awake all night with threats and jeers.

Mr McLean said: “I was angry because a lady officer was talking about what I was doing, saying I had an offensive weapon.

“It was like she wasn’t interested in him.

“They took me to the police station. It was a nightmare, it has never happened to me in my life.”

Mr McLean, who works for Dream Build, was just finishing work at 5.15pm behind Laziza restaurant in Upper Tooting Road when he heard his friend screaming and rushed to the scene carrying the pole.

It was claimed the woman was being threatened with a brick by a man, but when Mr McLean shouted for him to stop he was allegedly punched in the face.

Residents looked on in horror as police arrived and arrested both men, even though Mr McLean had a wounded cheek and had hurt nobody.

One eyewitness said: “He just came to help the girl. The crowd was very angry because they thought he was a hero.”

The 34-year-old, known to friends as Fire, was released at 4pm the next day when police accepted he had acted in self-defence.

A spokesman for the police said: “The protection of the public was paramount. “Both men with weapons were arrested. After an investigation of the incident, charges were dropped against one of the men.”