94-year-old fends off angry kangaroo with a broom

Two Australian police officers were forced to use pepper spray to fight off a rogue kangaroo that attacked an elderly woman in her backyard in an Outback town, it was reported yesterday.

The 94-year-old victim, Phyllis Johnson, was taken to a hospital to have cuts and bruises treated after the attack. She told the Courier Mail newspaper that she tried unsuccessfully to fight off the kangaroo with a broom after it attacked her while she was hanging out her washing.

"I thought it was going to kill me," Ms Johnson told the newspaper from her bed in a hospital in the Queensland state town of Charleville. "It was taller than me and it just ploughed through the clothes on the washing line straight for me."

She said the kangaroo knocked her to the ground before she crawled to her house, where her son called police.

Snr-Sgt Stephen Perkins, head of police in Charleville, said the first officer to reach the backyard was forced to spray the kangaroo to avoid being injured.

"The animal jumped away, then saw another officer at the back of the police car and went for that officer and he also had to deploy his capsicum spray – so the roo had to get sprayed twice," Mr Perkins said.

"After that, it hopped away from the scene, but police could still monitor its location – it didn't go too far."

Wildlife rangers were able to trap the kangaroo, which was described as a male red kangaroo, the world's largest marsupial.

The kangaroo will be examined by a vet before a decision is made about its future, Mike Devery, a government official, said.

Initial observations found some muscle deterioration in one of its hind legs, he said. Kangaroos rarely attack humans and Mr Perkins said he had never before heard of police using pepper spray against one.

"It did subdue the animal and drew its attention away from the officers, so it worked," he said.