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Yarmouth newsagent tackles knifeman

PUBLISHED: 12:02 04 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:41 03 July 2010

Yarmouth newsagent James Childs

Yarmouth newsagent James Childs

Stephen Pullinger

Yarmouth newsagent James Childs today relived the moment he wrenched a nine-inch kitchen knife out of the hand of a teenage raider.

The hooded attacker and his accomplice only fled empty-handed when a neighbouring shopkeeper came to Mr Childs' aid, knocking both to the ground in a fierce struggle.

Yarmouth newsagent James Childs today relived the moment he wrenched a nine-inch kitchen knife out of the hand of a teenage raider.

The hooded attacker and his accomplice only fled empty-handed when a neighbouring shopkeeper came to Mr Childs' aid, knocking both to the ground in a fierce struggle.

Mr Childs 59, who runs the Camden Road shop as part of a family partnership of three stores across the town, described his ordeal as “by far the worst incident in my 30 years here”.

And his brother Ralph, one of three trustees of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, said it reinforced the group's fears that the economic downturn would lead to crime escalating.

James Childs, who is married with three step-children, said the robbers struck at 5.15pm yesterday as he went out the back of the shop to fetch two packs of beer to refill the fridge.

He said: “As I turned, one of them came towards me with his knife raised and said, 'give me your money'. I said, 'hang on a minute, it's in the till' and then pointed out I had my hands full with the packs of beer.

“He dropped his hands slightly and that's when I grabbed the hand with the knife and said, 'give me the knife and I will give you some money'.

“I was playing for time because it was a busy time and people were likely to be coming in any moment to do their lottery.”

He said one woman did then come in and, seeing what was happening, ran to the Camden Road Supermarket next door for help.

Taking up the story, supermarket owner Philip Sutton said he was alerted to the robbery on the shop radio by one of his staff.

He said: “I ran straight round there and knocked one of the raiders over by opening the door. I threw him out and then went after the one with the knife.”

Fearing what was happening, the youth slackened his grip on the knife, enabling Mr Childs to grab it while Mr Sutton grabbed him round the neck and wrestled him to the ground.

It is thought the raider may have sustained one or two black eyes in the struggle before he managed to free himself and run out.

Mr Sutton, who has run his store since 1971, said: “I am not prepared to let anything like this happen to anyone.”

The raiders, both described as about 17 and wearing sunglasses, turned right out of the shop and then darted down an alley possibly in the direction of Queens Road.

The knifeman is described as about 5ft 8in, very thin, with blond cropped hair. He was wearing a black hooded top and black baseball cap with a red peak. He had what appeared to be a black-and-white checked scarf covering his lower face.

His accomplice is thought to be of a similar age, but a bit taller. He had dark hair and was wearing a dark hooded top.

Det Sgt Andy Ninham, of Yarmouth CID, said: “We would always advise the public to carefully assess the risk of situations like this, particularly where weapons are involved. However, sometimes people react instinctively and on this occasion both men were exceptionally brave.”

He appealed for witnesses to come forward and for anyone who may have had a son return home or friend visit in the early evening with facial injuries to contact him or ring Crimestoppers confidentially.


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