Joyce Ross, a 73-year-old who resides in the northern England city of Newcastle and has four great-grandchildren, is receiving praise from local police for her toughness and determination in fighting off a frightening intruder in her home, using nothing but a butter knife and a wooden back scratcher, The Northern Echo newspaper reports.
“Joyce showed great courage to stand up to the man and force him from her home. We are making sure she is safe and supported but I want to praise her for her actions,” Sergeant Tony Scott of the Northumbria Police told the paper. “We would never advocate people to confront a burglar but Joyce kept her composure and removed an opportunist thief from her home.”
And the great-grandma managed to come out of the terrifying incident with no injury worse than a slight cut on her head, sustained when she bumped it on a door frame as she briefly struggled with the man who had entered her home on Newcastle’s Denmark Street, reportedly slipping in through an unlocked door, according to the BBC.
But Ross was unfazed by the attack in the home where she has lived for 18 years, telling The Newcastle Chronicle, “It’s just the way I am. I fetched up three children on my own. But I have been lucky.”
So what happened? Ross was alone in her home at around 6:15 on the evening of July 2, just watching a little TV while relaxing on her favorite sofa, when she heard an unusual noise coming from the front area of her home. But at first, The Mirror recounts, she simply assumed it was one of her many family members showing up unannounced. Only when she called out to greet the person and heard nothing back, did the retiree become suspicious.
When she reached her front hallway, she found not a beloved family member, but a wild-looking man who was mumbling away to himself.
“I could tell that he was really out of it. He never spoke, he just mumbled to himself,” Ross said. “I said: ‘Get out, get out. Just tell us what you want but get out’. My defence was just shouting and I was waving my arms, but he seemed oblivious to it. He didn’t say a thing, then he moved forward.”
The home invader pushed past her, shoving Ross into the wall as he marched into her living room. He said nothing coherent, so the great-grandma had no idea what he wanted. She said she would have tried to offer him something to appease him and get him out of the house, but he appeared to be in his own world.
She pulled out her phone to call the emergency number, which is 999 in the United Kingdom, but the intruder swatted her phone away. So she grabbed a knife. Unfortunately, it was a blunt butter knife, so that didn’t do any good either.
“I just kept shouting ‘get out, get out, get out’. I picked up my back scratcher and tried to hit him. We started to scuffle and he pushed me. That’s when I hit my head on the door frame,” Ross recounted to the BBC. “Eventually I managed to push him out.”
Watch Joyce Ross describe the unnerving attack in her own words, in the below video courtesy of the Northumbria Police Department.
The intruder made off with a handbag containing two purses. Police described the man as white, about 40 years old and standing between six feet and six-feet-two-inches tall.
“It still hasn’t sunk in, I just need to unwind and settle down but I do think I would do the same thing again,” Ross said. “He obviously thought I was an easy target but now he knows I’m not.”