Roger Mercer says he is now dependent on his wheelchair (Image: Vicki Mercer).

Roger Mercer says he is now dependent on his wheelchair (Picture: Vicki Mercer)

An Army veteran who is now dependent on a wheelchair fought off knife-wielding muggers whilst training for the Chester half marathon. 

Roger Mercer was a Private in 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

He suffered a back injury in Afghanistan in 2004 which slowly deteriorated, resulting in him being medically discharged in 2007. 

"I was able to grab his wrist and twist while pushing his hand back against itself till he dropped the knife"

Mr Mercer, who is training for the Chester half marathon, was at the end of his session by a canal towpath in a Chester suburb when he was confronted by an unknown man.

According to Mr Mercer, the man's face was covered when he demanded his phone in an "aggressive tone".

Mr Mercer said the man was holding a knife.

Roger Mercer was in the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (Image: Roger Mercer).
Roger Mercer was in the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (Image: Roger Mercer).

He told Forces News:

"I knew this was going to badly with the way he was standing in front of me, so I had to get the knife out of that situation.

"I was able to grab his wrist and twist while pushing his hand back against itself till he dropped the knife."

The veteran, who is 6ft7 inches, then used his size and strength to throw the man to the floor.

"[At] that moment he was shocked at what had just happened, so I took the advantage of hitting him to the floor.

"As he was down, a second person grabbed me around the neck in a choke hold, pulling my head back to the point my wheelchair nearly fell back. I was able to push my thumb into his eye socket and he immediately let me go.

"This is the point when someone then kicked or pushed me over while I’m still strapped into my wheelchair. While on the floor I was expecting a kick to the face as I could not see anyone."

The two men then fled the scene, heading towards Chester city centre according to Police. 

The former Private said his military training proved vital in this experience. 

"My military experience helped me stay calm in that situation if I had panicked I dread to know what would have happened". 

Mr Mercer served in Afghanistan.
Mr Mercer served in Afghanistan.

Mr Mercer said he couldn't leave his home the next day as the "shock took hold" of him but he is still determined to take on the half marathon on the 29th April.

"I have been out and smashed a few more miles, although I am much more vigilant of my surroundings as I have to go past where I was attacked and it's the only area I can get to train".

Mr Mercer is hoping to raise £500 so that his local scout group can go on a weekend camping trip - he said:

"that's the drive that's going to make me do it."

Mr Mercer told Forces News he wanted to say thank you "for all the support and kind messages" he has received.

"Victim was extremely brave"

 

Detective Constable Tom Philpotts, of Chester CID, said:

“This was an opportunistic robbery by thieves who thought they could prey on a defenceless disabled man in order to steal his phone.

“In this case the victim was extremely brave and lucky to be able to fight off his attackers, preventing them from causing him serious harm or taking his phone".

One offender was described as white, between 5ft8 to 6ft in height, of a slim muscular build with blue eyes. He was believed to be aged in his mid-twenties.

The offender was also described as wearing a dark coloured hoodie, with his hood up and pulled tight as well as dark gloves. He also spoke with a Liverpool accent.

There is no description of the second man but Police say he may have sustained scratch marks to his face.

Police urge anyone with information to call them on 101 quoting IML 31300 or to alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.