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I'm no hero, insists pensioner who foiled jewellery raid

A pensioner dubbed "the handbag heroine" after she broke up a jewellery heist by swinging her shopping bag at a gang of robbers armed with sledgehammers has revealed it was her "mothers instinct" that had driven her to act, after she mistook the disturbance for a boy being beaten up. The extraordinary scene outside Michael Jones's jewellers in Northampton on Monday morning was captured by a documentary film-maker.

Ann Timson, a retired market trader in her 70s, said in a statement issued through police: "I looked over and saw a kid run up to the doorway of the jeweller. Three lads followed him and when I saw their arms going I thought the kid was being beaten up. My mother's instinct kicked in and I ran across the road shouting at the lads to stop it. There was a scooter in my path revving up, but by now I was in full flight and I started whacking the lads over the head with my shopping bag."

One of the gang members allegedly threatened her with a sledgehammer, but she was undeterred. Other passers-by eventually apprehended the men. She added: "In the cold light of day, I know I put myself in danger. But I probably would do the same again."