Published: 00:01, 24 November 2017
An 84-year-old Army veteran has told how he swung a pickaxe shovel at a burglar who broke into his home.
Pensioner Alfred Eyles was in the living room of his bungalow in Studd Hill, Herne Bay, when Martin Airey sneaked in through a back window.
But, instead of fearing for his life, Alfred used old military tactics to startle the crook before confronting him on his front drive with the menacing gardening tool.
“He was nasty but I’m an old Cockney and I wasn’t going to put up with that,” he said.
“I was sat in the corner of my living room and I saw him in the reflection of the mirror in the hallway. I pretended to be asleep and thought ‘I’m going to surprise him’.
“When he came into the room he didn’t see me and went to grab my wallet off the window sill. I swore at him and when he realised there was someone there, he didn’t know what to do.”
Airey, 49, who has now been jailed for six years for breaking into two homes in Herne Bay on June 5, ran back through the bungalow in Daytona Way, but Alfred wasn’t going to let him get away easily.
“My Army experience helped me,” he said. I knew I couldn’t tackle him outright and I didn’t want to end up in the corridor with him, in a small space, as he would have fought for his life.
“So I walked the other way, through the front of the house, and picked up the tool, which I use for my garden.
“I knew he’d be coming up the side of the house and out of the gate to where I’d be waiting out the front. I don’t know why I did it but I just went for him. I was angry. I nearly got him, too.”
Alfred, a retired lorry and coach driver, admits when he told police what he had done, he got a telling off.
“It was my instinct as a soldier – I used the element of surprise. I wasn’t frightened of him” - Alfred Ayles
“They said if I’d have hit him I would have gone to prison and I would have got longer than him,” he said. “The shock on Airey’s face, though. He didn’t know I was waiting for him.
“It was my instinct as a soldier – I used the element of surprise. I wasn’t frightened of him.”
Father-of-three Alfred, who uses a crutch and admits some days he can’t walk at all, served in the Royal Army Service Corps, eventually becoming a corporal and working in Korea, France and Germany.
“I lived a life you wouldn’t believe – that’s why I’m so happy-go-lucky,” he said.
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