Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009 15:49 UK

US 'banana gun robber' slips up

banana peel
Police took photos of the peel after the suspect ate most of the "evidence"

A US teenager who was thwarted in an attempt to rob an internet cafe armed with a hidden banana ate the "weapon" before he was arrested, police say.

John Szwalla entered the shop with a banana concealed under his T-shirt and demanded money, saying he had a gun.

The shop's owner and customers overcame the hapless thief and called for help, but they said the teenager ate his "weapon" before the police arrived.

Officers joked they may charge the 17-year-old with destroying evidence.

Bobby Ray Mabe, the owner of 109 Biz Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said police officials took pictures of the banana skin instead.

"If he had had a gun he would've shot me," Mr Mabe told the Winston-Salem Journal newspaper. "But he had a banana."

Mr Szwalla has been charged with attempted armed robbery.

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