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76-year-old woman sees off knife thug

By David Whelan

A MASKED man armed with a 10-inch machete-like blade who attempted to rob a New Lodge shop was forced to flee empty handed after a 76-year-old pensioner “told him where to go”.

Phidelma Saunders was working in her son’s Vivo store on the New Lodge Road on Monday afternoon when the masked man entered the store and began swinging the blade at staff while demanding scratchcards.

In an astonishing act of bravery the pensioner, who has been working behind shop counters for over 30 years, refused to hand over the goods forcing the man to flee from the shop empty-handed.

Speaking to the North Belfast News, the pensioner’s son and shop owner Barry Saunders said that his mother had become hardened to these types of attacks.

“It’s actually the first time the shop has ever been targeted in an armed robbery in over 30 years,” he said.

“But my mother has been in this game for that length of time so she is hardened to these things where others might not be.

“In saying that she still showed a tremendous amount of courage.”

Barry said that CCTV from his own store and the surrounding businesses showed two young men walk past the shop and look in before entering a nearby alleyway and returning hooded and scarfed.

IN CCTV recordings seen by the North Belfast News the man can be seen entering the small shop and demanding something from two women working behind the low counter.

Following a verbal exchange, where the 76-year-old can be seen pointing to the door, the man then produces a large knife and hacks at the till before running out of the door.

“There are major works going on and the street is closed off to cars but it happened around 5pm when there was still quite a few people around and even workmen,” said Barry

“It looks like they waited until there were the least amount of people before they struck. It all happened in about 15 seconds and they made off up the New Lodge Road, thankfully empty-handed.“

Police confirmed that they are investigating the attempted robbery and described the man as wearing black bottoms, a black coat with the hood up and a scarf covering his face.

They also believe he was accompanied by a man in a grey hooded top who waited outside the store.


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