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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 18:49 GMT
Santa fights off yobs with tree
The Paisley Centre
Santa's battle took place in Paisley's indoor shopping centre
A town centre Santa has been hailed as a hero after fighting off a gang of thugs with his Christmas tree.

Santa, otherwise known as Malky Watret, was handing out presents to children in Paisley's indoor shopping centre when he was targeted by a small mob.

He was set upon by about seven youths who knocked him down with a shopping trolley in front of horrified shoppers.

But he jumped up and chased them off by wielding an artificial 5ft tree before security guards intervened.

Bosses at The Paisley Centre have since issued Malky with a radio so he can call for help if another incident occurs.

My bag made quite a good shield, I waved and pointed the tree to keep them at bay
Santa
Aka Malky Watret

Mr Watret, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, said: "What kind of idiots would attack Santa?

"They were calling me a fraud and a fake. If it had happened on the street I might have acted differently - I'd have given them a few choice words, but you can't do that dressed as Santa.

"My bag made quite a good shield, I waved and pointed the tree to keep them at bay. All I wanted to do was keep a distance until I got security."

He added: "People have been asking if this has put me off, but not at all - I'll be back in the centre on Saturday."

'No pushover'

Paisley Centre manager Andrew MacKinnon praised his Santa for "saving the spirit of Christmas".

"Apparently these kids were about 12 or 13 years old, they pushed a trolley at Malky and knocked him over, " he said.

"All credit to him for standing his ground. It seems to have been more festive high jinks than malice, but Santa saw them off all the same.

"He wanted to show our shoppers and their children that Santa is no pushover."

Mr MacKinnon said that the centre's Santa hands out 2,000 presents free of charge every year.

He added: "There's still 500 presents left and Santa will be back on duty this weekend to make sure that the children don't miss out."

Problem youths in Paisley have already led to shops in the town's high street from banning those wearing hoods and baseball caps from entering.

Police said the measure could help them catch or discourage shoplifters who used hats to conceal their faces from CCTV cameras.

About 20 shops have teamed up to launch a "hats off, hoods down" policy with warning signs on show in many windows.

However, the youths were welcomed by The Paisley Centre who described the ban as "discriminatory".


SEE ALSO:
Baseball cap ban for town's youth
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Bad Santas run wild in Auckland
18 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Thug attacks Father Christmas
23 Dec 04 |  North East Wales


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