Hero foils city mugger
PUBLISHED: 07:17 16 August 2013 | UPDATED: 10:01 16 August 2013
A former kung-fu instructor yesterday told how he wrestled a suspected handbag snatcher to the ground in the middle of Norwich city centre.
The man cycled along Westlegate in Norwich and snatched the bag from a woman walking on the pavement and sped off in the direction of Theatre Street. However, the alleged thief did not get far as he soon found the hulking figure of 6ft 3ins tall former USA Air Force (USAAF) trainee Richard Malone.
The woman’s screams had alerted 29-year-old Mr Malone to the danger and he bravely put his body on the line to apprehend the man. “The woman came running towards me, running her little legs off, and was choking up, could barely get her words out,” Mr Malone said.
“She managed to say ‘my bag’ so I turned and had maybe 10 or 12 feet to make. So I stood in the road and let him and the bike hit me.
“We smashed heads and my partner grabbed the bag and I tried to grab his hands.”
Mr Malone is originally from the American state of Alabama but has collectively spent around 14 years of his life in Norfolk because his dad was in the forces. He studied at the UEA and now lives in Cromer.
He had been in the city shopping and to get a coffee with his partner, Lois Balding, when the incident began to unfold. The initial clash, at around 5pm on Wednesday, saw Mr Malone knock the suspected thief off his bike at the pedestrian crossing on Rampant Horse Street, between Debenhams and Marks and Spencer. The man then attempted to run up St Stephens Street but was caught by Mr Malone and wrestled to the ground. Paul Holley stepped in to help hold the suspect down, before two security guards from M&S came out to help.
Mr Holley said: “The man held the suspect’s upper body to the ground, whilst I sat on his thighs and restrained his lower legs.
“For some time the suspect, who was struggling violently and swearing, was restrained by the man and myself only; the two security guards arrived shortly afterwards and assisted us. We held the suspect until the police arrived and handcuffed him.”
Mr Holley praised Mr Malone’s actions, adding: “He acted bravely and very decisively in what was a fast-moving and confusing situation.”
At such a busy junction in the city, the incident had initially stopped traffic and saw a large crowd gather
One onlooker, who asked not to be named, said: “I was walking past the food hall of M&S and heard a girl screaming and making a lot of noise.
“At first I thought it was just kids mucking about but I could see they were in the road.
“Then this guy just ran out in the road and tried to get the thief on the ground, but he wasn’t having any of it and tried to get away and landed right at my feet.
“I was shocked and quite upset. It was very brave of the man.”
Mr Malone said he has been left with a swollen eye socket and has a few cuts and scrapes on his legs from the struggle but does not regret his actions.
He used to attend Iceni Warriors gym in Mile Cross so was not worried about attempting to tackle the suspect.
“I suppose it’s not a natural response,” Mr Malone added. “But my background is in martial arts, I used to teach Kung Fu and MMA (mixed martial arts) and trained quite a while at Iceni Warriors.
“They are fast twitch and teach fast responses, you don’t get a chance to think, it’s just instinctive, so I guess that helped.”
A police spokesman said a 22-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the incident and charged with theft.