A GOOD Samaritan who cornered a thief after he had robbed an elderly woman today told how the victim's distress moved him to act.

Paul Edwards, 60, from Acomb, had been cycling from his home in York when he heard the victim's cries for help.

He said: "There have been a number of occasions round that area, and when I heard her screaming and saw how distressed she was, I just thought I was going to get that bag back."

The thief, who robbed the woman in Sowerby Road, Acomb, made off into Lindsey Avenue, followed by Mr Edwards.

"I gave chase and managed to get very close to him," he said.

"He was very frightened and threw the bag on the floor. He turned and looked at me and said he was sorry. I could have grabbed him, but I thought I would just get the bag. I just wanted to make sure the woman was okay.

"There are all sorts of things that cross your mind. I wondered if he was armed in some way. Now I kind of wish I'd grabbed him, but I didn't and that's that."

The thief, who was about 17, rode off and Mr Edwards returned the bag to the woman.

He said: "There were people all around her, making sure she was all right, and I thought I'd just leave. I didn't want any publicity. You hear so many bad things about young people here, but she was surrounded by children who were all very concerned about her, and they walked her home. I thought that was tremendous."

The Evening Press contacted Mr Edwards after his wife revealed who the mystery Good Samaritan was.

He said: "You hear so much about what happens these days that people just don't want to get involved, but when I saw how distressed this woman was I just had to help."

The thief is described as wearing a black woolly hat, a black bomber jacket and beige jeans.

The incident happened at 3.55pm on Saturday. Anybody with information is asked to phone York Police on 01904 631321.

Updated: 11:17 Wednesday, May 21, 2003