Passer-by to theft victim's rescue

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2014
Fabiola Garcia

RELIEVED AND GRATEFUL: Robert Lloyd came to Fabiola Garcia’s rescue after she had a backpack with her money stolen as she was closing up her Mexican food stall.

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Robert Lloyd holds his own as a cage fighter, but he's never had to wrestle a man with a knife.

The Christchurch rebuild worker has been praised by police, family and friends after he leapt from a car and chased down a suspected armed bag-snatcher in Hagley Park.

"I just did what any good samaritan would do," Lloyd said yesterday. He saw Fabiola Garcia, the owner of Mexican food store Las Flores, chasing a man across Deans Ave into Hagley Park, near the intersection of Riccarton Rd.

The man had snatched the Riccarton business owner's backpack from her car and run off with it, police said.

Lloyd parked his car and gave chase - yelling at the suspect to stop - before tackling him to the ground.

"I picked him up by the scruff of the neck and was ready to own him," Lloyd said. From a distance he heard his mother yell out "don't you hit him" so he held back.

Then he heard Garcia screaming out "he's got my phone".

"I said ‘hey, mate, give this lady her phone back, you piece of s...' and then he pulled a knife out on me."

Lloyd grabbed the weapon - a kitchen knife - by the blade, wrested it from the man's grip and threw it away.

"The adrenaline sort of took over. I just had to eliminate it - take the situation away from him."

The suspect took off through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Lloyd - on the phone to police - followed him at a distance.

The man hid briefly in the Avon River before he was spotted by police near Christchurch Hospital and arrested.

Lloyd, a talented cricketer and golfer, moved to Christchurch from Auckland with his family about three years ago. He said he took up cage fighting about five years ago and trained in New Brighton.

Garcia told The Press earlier that she was "eternally grateful" Lloyd came to her aid. The backpack contained her day's earnings, a wallet and electronic equipment.

She said she had promised him free Mexican food "for the rest of my life".

Detective Sergeant Grant Collins praised Lloyd for what he had done, but urged people to consider their own safety when intervening.

Daniel Michael Moynihan, 32, appeared in Christchurch District Court on Monday charged with theft from a car and aggravated assault.

He was remanded in custody to appear by video link from prison on August 4.

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- The Press

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