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World War II veteran fights off two knife-wielding teenagers

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A diminutive Second World War veteran saw off two burglars with a single punch after one of them brandished a knife and demanded cash.

Pensioner Kenneth Brown, 88, said his army training kicked in as soon as he saw one of the would-be robbers roll up his sleeve to reveal the knife.

Mr Brown, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs just nine stone, told MailOnline he could have done 'a lot more damage' to the cowardly pair but did not want to get in trouble with police.

He said: 'They demanded money from me so I walloped one and they ran off. 

'One of them had pulled his sleeve back and I saw a knife. At that point I knew what to do because my army training kicked in. I hit one of them in the chest.'

Mr Brown added: 'I didn't think about the danger. I told the police I could have done them a lot more damage, but I didn't want to get on the wrong side of the law.

'As it was, I spoke to the police and they told me I was defending myself.' 

The brave pensioner said he wasn't scared and acted on instinct by confronting the burglars at his home in Lympne, Kent.

He added: 'I had no time to be scared and that's how they train you in the army.' 

Teenagers Jack Saunders, who had the knife, and Tom Love, both 19, were sentenced to 19 and 11 months' youth custody respectively last Friday.

Mr Brown was watching cricket on television at about 3.30pm on Sunday, April 14, 2013 when the pair knocked on the back door of his property and demanded cash.

Speaking about the teenagers, Mr Brown, who was called up for National Service as an 18-year-old and was in the army for two-and-a-half years, said: 'I think they should have been taken into the army like we were. I think children nowadays need to be more disciplined.

On the sentences the pair received, he added: 'That may teach them a lesson. Young people like these try it on with old people.'

Mr Brown served with the Somerset Light Infantry in Asia, mostly in India, in the last months of the Second World War and was also trained in unarmed combat.

He was conscripted in the spring of 1945, as the war in Europe was ending but the Allies were still fighting the Japanese in the Far East.  

Sentencing Love and Saunders at Canterbury Crown Court, Judge Adele Williams praised Mr Brown.

She said: 'Mr Brown behaved in a conspicuously brave and thoughtful way, reacting very quickly when confronted by these two men.'

The court heard Mr Brown had taken off the chain and unlocked his front door to see what the boys wanted.

Prosecutor Sherry Nabijou said: 'Saunders initially said "I'm here to pick up my football from your front lounge", but he tried to push his way inside after saying, "give me money".

'Mr Brown was taken aback by this strange behaviour and saw the youngster had a knife with a five or six inch blade.'

After Mr Brown punched Saunders, who had the knife, they ran into a waiting car but not before neighbours took down their registration number.

Love and a female were stopped in the car the next day and tests on cigarette butts in the car found Saunders' DNA.

Police also found text messages between the two boys in which they referred to the victim as 'the old boy'.

Although the incident happened two years ago, Love, of Sittingbourne, Kent, did not plead guilty to attempted robbery until his trial began.

Traffic management engineer Saunders, of Wormshill, near Sittingbourne, Kent, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

Stephen Page, mitigating for Saunders, said he felt 'the deepest remorse for what was a very harrowing and disturbing incident involving a very vulnerable person'.

Simon Sandford, for Love, handed in a number of character references on behalf of the teenager.

But Judge Williams said: 'What is particularly troubling is the conduct of this defendant on this occasion belies all the very good character references.

'There seem to be two sides to this young man.'

She criticised the youngster for not pleading guilty until recently, adding: 'His failure to acknowledge his responsibility until his first day of the trial has resulted in all this time elapsing.

'One could be forgiven for thinking that he did everything possible to avoid his responsibility.' 

Mr Brown is an engineer by trade and was a civilian employee for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for nearly 20 years.

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Published: 1 day ago
Published: 1 day ago


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