An 88-year-old military veteran who rescued a young woman from five knife-wielding robbers today said: “Fear is not in my dictionary.”
John Nixon brought down one of the thugs with a karate chop to the neck but an accomplice then slashed his hands and head. The attackers fled as the woman ran away screaming.
Mr Nixon was taken to hospital after a neighbour raised the alarm.
He told the Standard he stepped in after seeing the youths grab at the woman’s handbag and clothes in Raglan Street, Kentish Town.
“My initial thoughts were to divert their attention away from the girl who was screaming. I shouted ‘leave her alone’,” he said.
“But they turned on me, saying ‘We’ll take your money instead’ and I said ‘No you don’t’. Kids this age are full of bravado, you see, they weren’t expecting a surprise.”
Mr Nixon says he trained as a commando at the Achnacarry depot in the Highlands in the Forties, joined an elite special services unit and fought in the Korean War.
He was sent on intelligence missions to Egypt, the Middle East and Germany and after leaving the military accompanied Médecins Sans Frontières to Nigeria as a bodyguard.
He said of the attempted robbery: “My training kicked in. I landed a blow to his neck which rendered him semi-conscious. I disabled one but another one pulled out a knife so I had to try and deal with him too.
“I tried to disarm him and in the process I got stab wounds here, there and everywhere. There was a lot of blood. He wasn’t trained and it was more of a pocket knife. Luckily my wounds were shallow.”
The robbers fled, leaving Mr Nixon bleeding in the street. He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital where a social worker told him about a neighbourhood police meeting the next evening. He attended as “living evidence”.
Mr Nixon was applauded after recounting the attack, which took place at 8pm on January 27, and was commended by Detective Inspector Will Lexton-Jones for his “extraordinary bravery”.
Mr Nixon, a widower with a grown-up daughter, said: “My thoughts were just to help her [the woman]. I’ve been shot in the leg and even bitten by a snake, the venom lay dormant in my spine for years. I’ve been near death so many times that situation just doesn’t worry me. The woman ran off screaming but I hope she is okay.”
A Met spokesman said: “A member of the public saw the altercation take place and intervened. The woman managed to run away but the man was attacked and suffered minor injuries.”
No arrests have been made.
Anyone with information is asked to call police in Camden via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.