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Aussie woman, 89, beats off bandit with handbag

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SYDNEY (AFP) – An 89-year-old Australian woman who used a handbag to beat off a knife-carrying would-be robber said Friday she would do it all again, adding she would have "killed him if I could".

The woman, known only by the pseudonym Jean, was chatting with two friends in an underground car park in Melbourne on Thursday after buying a bottle of wine to enjoy after a day's shopping when a "grubby" man approached.

When he allegedly held a knife to the throat of Jean's 82-year-old lifelong friend and demanded her handbag, Jean acted without hesitation.

"I thought he was going to kill (her) and I wasn't going to have that, and I just hit him with my bag on his face," Jean said.

"I'd have killed him if I could."

The grandmother with the knife at her throat had already attempted to kick the would-be thief in the groin.

"He was just saying 'Give me your bag! Give me your bag! And I said: 'No way'," the woman, who asked to be known as Marie, said.

"I tried to kick him in the groin but I could not move my leg far enough or high enough."

The man fled after a male passer-by came to the defence of the women, but not before their 71-year-old companion had memorised the number plate of the stolen car he used to escape.

Police were impressed by the women, who survived the incident with handbag intact and only a small cut to Marie's hand, which did not require treatment.

"It was a pretty scary thing to go through, for even me, let alone an 82-year-old," said Senior Constable David Millar.

"I wouldn't say [Marie is] feisty at all, she's just a nice old lady."

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