Terry Allen wrestled with a robber who mugged an elderly woman in broad daylight.
Terry Allen wrestled with a robber who mugged an elderly woman in broad daylight. Rob Wright

'Citizen arrest' nabs bag-snatcher

TERRY Allen’s horror at seeing an elderly woman robbed in Coffs Harbour’s CBD swiftly turned to action as he chased down and tackled the assailant.

The 81-year-old victim underwent surgery yesterday after she suffered a broken hip and facial injuries in the cowardly attack which has shocked seasoned police officers.

Mr Allen saw a teenager ride up to the woman – who had two bags over her arm – near the Vernon Street entrance to the Palms Centre about 3.30pm on Monday.

The offender grabbed one of the bags but tossed it when he discovered it was empty and rode at her again, this time snatching her handbag.

The woman stumbled and fell face-first to the ground

“My first thought was ‘how could someone do that to an old lady’. It was so incredibly brazen and wrong,” Mr Allen, 44, said.

“I was determined to get the bag back so off I went.”

As a screaming bystander rushed to the woman’s aid, Mr Allen bravely sprinted to head off the robber as he fled east on Vernon Street.

“I dived and tackled him and got him around the shoulders and off his bike,” he said.

“I was wrestling with him and could only hold him for about 10 seconds before he struggled free. He also had a couple of mates standing nearby.

“I dusted myself off and took the handbag back to the lady, who was lying in a pool of blood. We waited with her until police and ambulance arrived.”

The father-of-four sustained grazing and swelling to his knee, elbow and collarbone but knows he did the right thing. “It’s one of those things we shouldn’t allow to happen,” Mr Allen said.

The 81-year-old Coffs Harbour woman was yesterday reported to be in a stable condition in Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

About the same time as this attack, a Safety Beach woman, 54, was walking through the Castle Street car park when a man ran up to her, hit her arm and stole her bag.

The woman was not injured but she and her husband chased the man and they retrieved her purse. The assailant fled from the scene.

Police later went to an Albany Street home where they arrested a man, 18, and subsequently charged him with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, robbery and stealing. He was refused bail to face Coffs Harbour Local Court yesterday.

They also arrested a youth, 16, at the same address. He was yesterday charged with robbery.

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