Robber meats his match

Warren Ellem, 58, fought off a knife-wielding robber by throwing a meat slicer at him.
Warren Ellem, 58, fought off a knife-wielding robber by throwing a meat slicer at him. Tweed Daily News

WHEN Tugun shop owner Warran Ellem was confronted by a knife wielding robber he began to hurl everything he could find at the bandit, including a steel meat slicer.

Acting on instinct, the 58-year-old was not about to give up his hard-earned cash without a fight.

The masked bandit, who later fled empty handed, was hit in the face with a carton of milk, cans of dog food and other supermarket stock after he entered the Tugun Family Superstore about 5am and demanded cash from the owner.

But despite being repeatedly threatened by the bandit, who was wearing a rubber Halloween mask, Mr Ellem refused to open the till.

“I was more taken back than anything,” Mr Ellem said.

“He said 'This is a (expletive) robbery; give me your (expletive) money', and I said 'You're kidding'.”

He says he was at first shocked by the offender, but then got mad.

After throwing several items at his attacker the would-be thief decided he had “had enough”.

“So I went around to the other side of the counter and tried to stop him from using the knife,” he said.

The two wrestled up and down the aisles, smashing bottles and crashing into shelves until the knife fell to the floor and the offender fled.

Mr Ellem has been hailed a hero, but he reckons other people would have done exactly the same thing.

“It's not bravery or anything ... you protect what is yours,” he said.

“I work 18 hours a day, seven days a week; I'm not about to hand over my money to anyone.”

Mr Ellem has owned the Golden Four Drive store with his wife Virginia for just over two years.

For Mrs Ellem, the worst part was not being able to embrace her husband after his ordeal.

“He told me I better get down here because he'd been robbed,” she said. “It was the longest trip down here I've ever had.

“The police had him in this plastic suit to save the DNA. I couldn't even give him a cuddle.”

Mrs Ellem said she wasn't surprised her husband had reacted the way he did.

“He's a big strong guy, you don't mess with him,” she said.

Mr Ellem's customers yesterday congratulated him on his actions, while others expressed relief that he was safe.

Despite nursing cuts and bruises to his head, arms and back, he has no regrets about his actions and was planning to return to work at 4am today.

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