Raider tells publican: ‘I will slice off your ear and slit your throat’
A BRAVE publican faced down an armed robber who was pointing a gun at him and "called his bluff" by challenging him to shoot him.
This was after the gunman had loaded a cartridge into the gun in front of him and customers.
Liam Hodson (51) was serving behind the bar at the Marsh House pub in Drogheda, Co Louth, when two men came in, one armed with a double barrelled shotgun and the other carrying a meat cleaver.
Within minutes Liam, with the help of customers, had overpowered the man with the meat cleaver but the gunman escaped.
The married father of one said he was still traumatised by what had happened. He had a bandage around a cut on his hand and also sported fresh cuts to the side of his face and his throat.
The drama unfolded at 8.15pm on Saturday evening.
Liam described how the armed man went to one end of the small bar and the man with the cleaver went to the other and, "they had me fairly well covered".
The man with the gun "loaded a cartridge into the shotgun and threatened to shoot me".
At the same time, the man with the meat cleaver was threatening to kill him and cut off his ear if he did not give them the takings from the till and from the safe.
The raiders got what is believed to have been a small amount of cash, perhaps €200, from the till.
"The man with the cleaver had it on my ear and was trying to get the keys to the safe out of my pocket," said Liam.
Liam managed to shove the man with the knife away and called the gunman's bluff. "I walked in front of him and said: 'Shoot me.' I was calling his bluff as I said: 'Shoot me.'"
"I said to him, I know you and you know me," the publican said.
At that point he said one of his customers, a man, "helped me out by
trying to grab the gun off yer man and a scuffle broke out".
Other customers, along with Liam, were then able to pin the man with the meat cleaver on the floor.
"Then I tried to grab the gun off yer man and he snapped it out of my hand and ran out of the door. I locked the front door after he had gone out and then I ran and locked the back door so the other guy would not get out. I phoned the gardai."
Among the small group of customers in the bar at the time was local man Chris Corboy.
"I thought it was a prank, a joke. I am still shaking from it," he said.
"They told Liam to 'open the till, open the till'. It took him a while to open it. There wasn't a lot in it and then they asked him to open the safe but he kept telling them that he didn't have the keys to the safe."
He said another customer who played a key role in detaining the raider with the meat cleaver had a wound to his head and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Liam is puzzled as to why raiders would target his pub.
"He didn't get a lot of money. If you really want to rob a pub you could pick better pubs to rob. You could have got 10 times the amount out of another pub."
The Mayor of Drogheda, Richie Culhane, said: "It was a brave customer who tackled the man with the knife and it is great that he was caught. However I would not recommend it as it could go badly wrong and we could be dealing with a fatality."
A 21-year-old man who was arrested in connection with the incident remained in garda custody last night.
The cash taken was also recovered.
By Elaine Keogh