THE IRISH manager of a popular London bar has been left sickened after being robbed of his weekend takings by two men on Monday morning.
Gerry O’Brien, manager of the Churchill Arms pub in Kensington, was targeted by the pair before they escaped on motorbike.
The Clare native was making the five-minute walk from the pub on Kensington Church Street to the Barclays Bank at Notting Hill Gate when the robbers, who were dressed in black and whose faces were hidden by cycling helmets, struck.
Describing his ordeal, the 66-year-old explained how he battled with one of the robbers after being set upon from behind.
“I felt someone pounce on me from the back, then he appeared in front of me. I roared and roared and pulled my bags up in front of me,” said O’Brien.
“I grabbed the bloke and had him up to my chin as close to my face as I could. He was looking into my eyes and I think he was shocked that I was roaring and I’d caught him.
“He managed to pull the bag and the handles came off. I was left with the handle in my hand.
“I don’t know how he got away from me – with the shock of seeing the bag tearing I might have loosened my grip on him and he ran for the bike.
“I ran after him but I’ve had two knee replacements over the years, I just couldn’t reach him. It was fierce upsetting altogether. It happened so quick.”
The robbers then made off in the direction of Notting Hill Gate.
O’Brien has run the award-winning pub – famous for it Christmas tree displays and exterior and interior floral displays – for 32 years and neither he nor the pub has been targeted before.
“I thought I had a lovely safe street but how can you say that about anywhere anymore? We have to get security now and people to come and do our banking.
“It’s a dreadful feeling, you feel so sick. You feel mad and in a rage – mad at yourself that you allowed yourself to be caught, that you weren’t able to hold onto the bloke. That’s my biggest upset as I had him.
“You hear a motorbike and you jump now.”
Despite the incident, it’s business as usual for the hardworking landlord, who describes his daily trip to the shops before opening as his day out.
“I love my walk down from the pub every morning, it’s my day out, literally. It’s a lovely street down along here – you wave to people in the shops, the people passing in the taxi cabs know you.
“When I woke up this morning and came down to work into the pub I said I’m happy to be alive, thank God – I look at it like that now. But it’s an awful feeling to be caught. Never in my 32 years has anything happened.
“It’s a blot against the beautiful time I’ve had here. It’s an awful shame that it has happened but lookit, it could have been worse.
“We could have had the pub broken into, that would have killed me altogether. At least it happened outside, the pub hasn’t been touched.”
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they are investigating and are reviewing CCTV footage from the area.