LONDON: Britain’s oldest employee has told how he single-handedly fought off a gang of muggers. Buster Martin, 100, a van cleaner for Pimlico Plumbers, was walking to a bus stop in south London when three youths pounced on him from behind.
Despite their best efforts to subdue him, the World War II veteran launched a counterattack and sent them running empty-handed.
He said: “They obviously thought I would be an easy touch because I’m old. But they soon found out I’m still a good fighter.
“They just jumped on me and caught me unexpected. But they didn’t realise how fast I would turn around on them. I was confused and I was lashing out at them. How the hell I found the strength I don’t know. I think it came from my temper. I don’t lose it often but when I do it’s not a pretty sight.”
The gang struck at around 10.30pm on Thursday as Martin was leaving the Fox on the Hill pub in Denmark Hill.
Their blows sent him crashing to the floor but he managed to spring back up and defend himself:
“I hit one in the groin and I kicked another one. The foot I used had been operated on a week before for an in-growing toenail. They must have done a good job on it because it worked bloody well.”
The muggers eventually gave up and ran off leaving their victim with cuts to his head and bruised ribs.
Martin staggered to nearby King’s College Hospital where he was kept in overnight.
He reported for duty at Lambethbased Pimlico Plumbers’ the next day but bosses refused to let him work. Managing director-Charlie Mullins said: “It’s typical of Buster to carry on as usual. He couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. But he needs to take it easy for the moment.
“Had he been a weaker character it might have finished him off but Buster doesn’t back down from anything. That’s the kind of person he is.”
Born in France in 1906, Martin was brought to England when he was three months old and went to an orphanage in Cornwall after his parents died. But he was thrown out at the age of 10 “for eating too much and growing too fast”.
He then travelled to London and found work running errands for stallholders at Brixton market. In 1920 he married and joined the army. After leaving in 1955 he returned to the market.
Martin, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Lambeth Walk, has 17 children and fathered the first at 15.
The man who celebrates his 101st birthday in September said: “As long as I still wake up in the morning, I will continue to work.” – London Evening Standard