A have-a-go-hero street sweeper who dropped his broom to apprehend a suspect after an elderly woman was mugged has been described as "incredible".

Road sweeper Paul Robinson was just finishing his morning break when he spotted 82-year-old Rose Bedborough running past him in London Road, North Cheam, shortly before midday last Wednesday.

The 45-year-old thought the pensioner had missed her bus but then heard her shouting 'he's taken my purse'. Realising Mrs Bedborough had just been mugged, Mr Robinson set off in pursuit of the suspect and,  after a chase around the backstreets of North Cheam, managed to apprehend a 17-year-old and get the purse back.

Mr Robinson, of Brunswick Road in Sutton, said: "I'd just finished my break and I went down a side broad to get my barrow. All of a sudden I see and old lady running along. I'd never seen an old lady running like that before so I knew something was wrong but I thought she'd just missed her bus.

"Then I heard her shouting so I ran over and asked what the matter was. She told me he was wearing a chequered jacket so I ran off to find him.

"Another bloke came with me, I hadn't met him before. We ended up in these alleys, I went one way and he went the other. We ended up in these derelict flats of Malden Road. I thought I was going to get stabbed or beaten up or something.

"I looked around and then I saw this guy hiding. I said 'oi, give me her purse back' and he gave it to me."

Mr Robinson, who is employed by Sutton Council, said the suspect tried to get away but he managed to restrain him until police arrived.

Mrs Bedborough's husband Alan was not with his wife at the time but came to meet her after she phoned him. Not knowing Mr Robinson had tracked the purse down, the pair went to the Barclays bank in London Road to cancel her cards but ended up meeting Mr Robinson who had gone there looking for them.

Mr Bedborough said: "He did something really heroic, he's incredible. We're so grateful to him. I don't know if we'd have got the purse back if it wasn't for him. He's a hero."

Mr Robinson appeared on the letters page of the Sutton Guardian earlier this month when a reader was so moved by his diligent work in cleaning his street and even pulling up the weeds, he wrote to the paper to praise him.

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Paul Robinson with Rose and Alan Bedborough and the purse he managed to retrieve

Councillor Ruth Dombey, leader of Sutton Council, said: "We are extremely proud of Paul and his selfless actions. He helped protect one of our residents in her hour of need and this should send out a clear message that in Sutton we will not stand for crime in any form and will intervene when necessary. I’d like to congratulate Paul for his courageous actions and thank him for his continued efforts."

A 17-year-old from Croydon was has been arrested in connection with the incident and charged with theft. He is due to attend Croydon Youth Court on August 20.