A BRAVE petrol station manager has spoken of the moment he fought off a hammer-wielding thug during an attempted robbery.

Ponnudurai Loganathan, 73, was working at the Gulf Service Station, in Pump Hill, St Osyth, when it was targeted by two thugs on a motorbike.

One of the men, armed with a hammer, went into the shop at the station and demanded Mr Loganathan open the till.

But Mr Loganathan, who has owned the shop for two years, refused to open the register and pushed the assailant away when he tried to get behind the counter.

He said: “I was at the back of the shop and the door was open and suddenly he came next to me and he had a hammer in his hand.

“Twice he shouted ‘open the till’ and I just said ‘why?’

“He came around the till and pushed me – and I pushed him back. I tried to open his helmet because I couldn’t see his face, but he was wearing a mask under it.

“I took one bottle and I clubbed him with it on the helmet and then punched him in his face.

“He almost fell down and got up and went back around the other side of the till.

"He was very angry because he knew he wouldn’t get anything from me.

“He pushed things off the counter, but I took a bottle and threw it at him. It hit him. He then ran away out of the door.

“I heard a motorbike outside and I went outside, but I couldn’t see them.”

Mr Loganathan thanked two men who worked at the martial arts gym next door who gave chase, although the suspects managed to get away.

He added: “I wasn’t scared, I was just very angry. I’m the boss, the owner of this shop.

“It’s my till and I work hard.

“For somebody to come and ask me to open the till and I’ll give them money – I can’t allow that sort of thing. They’d just send people to do it again and again.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said two people arrived at the service station on a moped and one of them went into the store with a hammer and demanded the till was opened, but made off empty handed.

“The moped was then seen travelling along St Johns Road, turning into Rouses Lane and then onto a road which leads to Jaywick Lane,” he added.

“Both people were wearing helmets.”

Witnesses or anyone with CCTV or dash cam footage of the incident, which happened at about 8.20pm on September 26, is asked to call 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/154213/19.