Sunday 22 July 2018

WATCH: Armed raid foiled as shopkeeper turns out to be karate black belt

Sibu Kuruvilla subduing a gunman who came in demanding the takings at his shop in Leicester
Sibu Kuruvilla subduing a gunman who came in demanding the takings at his shop in Leicester

Richard Vernalls

A hapless armed raider looking for "easy money" got more than he bargained for on Christmas Eve when he tackled a shop run by a karate black belt.

Sibu Kuruvilla sprang into action when an assailant came into the Leicester business he has spent three years building up, brandishing what appeared to be a pistol.

He and a shop assistant were about to close up at 10pm after a busy day trading, when the man shouted for them to hand over the takings, waving the gun in the air.

Unfortunately for the unwanted visitor, 43-year-old Mr Kuruvilla is a 1st Dan black ban in Seibukan karate - and has been helping teach Leicestershire youngsters the martial art for years.

With a gun pointed at his head, married the father-of-two waited for the male assailant to get close before snatching the pistol in one swift movement.

He and his colleague then wrestled the attacker into submission in 13-minute struggle, using a leg lock which left the attacker "begging" to "please" be let go.

Mr Kuruvilla, non-plussed, said: "He came over me actually and I was like 'please don't hurt us' and you get to a point where you think you have to do something and you have to react."

"That is where I thought I could do something and I have the courage to do it."

Chuckling at the memory, he added: "Because my sensei (karate teacher) taught me well - tackle people when you're in that situation.

"I do a bit of martial arts, I do Seibukan karate, so it is probably because of that I got the courage to tackle him."

Asked if he thought the assailant had been expecting the moves, Mr Kuruvilla replied: "Yes, he was not expecting that - for us to react and to overpower him.

"He was thinking 'easy money, two minutes, two grand', something like that.

"He was a big bloke."

However, the assailant's attitude had changed after being pinned to the floor in the aisle of Leo's Super Saver store in Main Street, Evington for a quarter of an hour.

Mr Kuruvilla said: "He was begging towards the end - he was tired, he gave up I think - 'please let me go, please let me go' and he said 'I will not come back to my shop'

"I said 'you will not come back to this shop - but you'll go to another shop, so I won't let you go.'

"Then he gave up.

"I put him in a leg lock so he won't move, and my boy was on top of him to make sure he wasn't."

All the while, Mr Kuruvilla - a former artisan chef, who decided to move into groceries three years ago - had his two daughters, aged seven and nine, locked in the shop's back office.

They were able to watch the drama unfold "live" on the shop's in-store TV monitors, but were unable to ring the police because the phone was out of range.

Two other customers came in - and left again - before a third dialled 999.

However, both Mr Kuruvilla and his colleague were able to hit the silent alarm, summoning police who arrived 13 minutes after the man first stepped through the door.

He said his girls had been left scared, and told their grandfather it had been "the worst Christmas ever", while Mr Kuruvilla said he had been shaken up.

Of the man he tackled, he added: "I hope he will learn his lessons and move on as a better person."

Asked why he acted, he added: "There is no other way, if you're running scared, where are you going end up?

"You're going to keep on running.

"You stand up and face what you come up against. That's what I believe."

News has spread of the brave act, with customer Graham Corbett, who served with the Royal Military Police, congratulating Mr Kuruvilla for his "brilliant" actions.

Leicestershire Police said a 17-year-old male was arrested in connection with the incident and has been bailed pending police inquiries.

Press Association

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