‘I was just putting on my coat when I heard our shop assistant, Sue, yelling my name from the till,’ Ann tells New Idea. ‘I rushed down the aisles to see what was going on and I’ll never forget what I saw.’
In chilling scenes, Ann was met by the sight of a masked man, brandishing a rusty axe and demanding money from the till.
When he spotted the plucky gran, he turned and threatened her with the weapon.
Rather than shy away from confronting the intruder, Ann took matters into her own hands.
‘I don’t know where it came from, but I looked him in the eye and said: “I’m not afraid of you, I’m going to call the police,”’ she recalls.
‘I picked up the phone to dial – I was so terrified and shaken up that I never would have been able to do it, but he didn’t know that.’
As Ann dialled the number with trembling fingers, the axeman charged at her – knocking the phone from her hand and sending the grandmother flying to the floor.
Then, the robber brought the axe down on the side of her head, creating a bleeding gash on her scalp.
‘I felt the pain surge through me as the axe made contact with my skull,’ Ann recalls with a shudder.
‘Blood started pouring down my face, and I just remember looking up to see Sue opening the till and my attacker grab as much cash as he could.’
Determined to not let the robber get away with his crimes, Ann bravely pulled herself to her feet and stumbled out of the shop to shout for help. Behind her, the callous attacker was sauntering out of the store, stuffing notes into his pockets – with the axe still in his hand.
‘He just left the shop so calmly, like it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, and something snapped in me then,’ Ann, from the UK, says.
‘He’d robbed me of my livelihood, attacked me with an axe and now he didn’t have a care in the world? I couldn’t let him get away with it!’
So as the axeman strolled towards his car, the fast-thinking gran mustered all her strength to follow him – urging strangers to take down the number plate of his car before he sped off.
‘I’ve never screamed so loud in my entire life,’ Ann recalls. ‘My throat hurt for days afterwards! I remember shouting to a woman: “Ring the police, he’s got an axe!” All while blood was gushing from my head.
‘He climbed into a car, and I shouted to a stranger on the street to get the car registration, as I was too shaken up to do it myself. I just knew he had to be caught.’
Ann gave a statement to the police before an ambulance took her to the hospital, where medics glued the three centimetre gash on her head and gave her a tetanus shot to prevent infection from the rusty axe.
Thankfully, the car registration number helped police track down 41-year-old former soldier Neil Gordon, who they swiftly arrested.
Gordon pleaded guilty to the robbery and attack, as well as a previous robbery at a nearby shop.
On November 17, 2017, at Leicester Crown Court, Ann cheered triumphantly as he was sentenced to eight years in prison, with the judge branding him a ‘danger to the public’.
‘I am happy with eight years, although it could have been longer,’ she says. ‘At least I have closure now.’