Have-a-go hero shopkeeper fights off armed robbers with a mop
A Belfast newsagent has told how he fought off a knife-wielding robber armed with only a mop.
Peter Mitchell was defiant yesterday after fighting off the attempted robbery with the help of fellow traders, Brian, Barry and Patrick Coyle.
He said: “I work too hard for my money and they're not getting it for free.”
The bakers rushed to help as two hooded men, armed with a knife and a crowbar, attempted to rob Mr Mitchell's shop on the Upper Lisburn Road at 7.30am yesterday.
“Two fellows came in, one with a crowbar and the other one had a knife,” said Mr Mitchell, who owns Finaghy News.
“The man with the knife came round the counter and told me to open the till and give him the money.
“I said: ‘I'll get it for you now’, and I stepped back. He said: ‘If you don't open the till I'll cut you’. I went to open the till, but instead I pressed the panic button to alert the police.
“I stepped back and told him he was getting nothing. I was angry. I don't know if I was frightened or not. Then the adrenaline kicked in. I ran after the man with the crowbar. He attacked me, I had a mop and hit him on the back of the neck with it.”
Fellow trader Brian Coyle was working in his bakery when his brother Patrick, who works with him in the family-run firm, shouted that there was a robbery taking place across the road.
Mr Coyle said: “I rushed from my shop to help. When I got there I saw my brother lift the lottery sign from outside the shop and throw it at the man with the bar.
“The next thing I knew the man with the knife was running at me and as I kicked at him he fell and sliced through my T-shirt.”
Brian played down his role, saying: “I was lucky I saw the knife, it was only a wee nick, it could have been a lot worse. I was only a bit shaken.”
The robbers then fled in what's believed to be a Subaru-type car.
“There was a car waiting for them. The guy driving tried to reverse over Brian and hit him with the car. Then he drove at me and knocked me over,” said Mr Mitchell.
Commenting on a further two incidents that took place — one at Ladybrook Park, the other on the Stewartstown Road — that police have linked to the attempted robbery at Finaghy, Mr Mitchell said: “They have a brass neck to try and rob three places so soon after each other. They must have really planned it out.”
The thieves, after attempting to steal a man's wallet at a shop on Ladybrook Park, in which a customer had his hand cut, moved on to a business on the Stewartstown Road, where they made off with cash and cigarettes.
Police have appealed for help in finding the men.