No surrender: Sydney shopkeeper turns streetfighting instincts against knife-wielding robber

Mike Duffy

One minute Dhaval Shukla was preparing his Subway sandwich shop for the day's trading. The next, he was in a fight for his life with a knife-wielding attacker.

The Sydney shopkeeper spotted the would-be burglar on CCTV footage as he crept into the store and jumped over the counter.

He said he could only see the eyes of his intruder behind a black balaclava and feared he was going to get stabbed.

The intruder raised a large knife to Mr Shukla, who fought back with a box cutter. Photo: 7 News
Mr Shukla told 7 News he didn't think twice about fighting back. Photo: 7 News

But instead of surrendering, Mr Shukla fought back.

Thinking quickly, he grabbed a nearby box cutter, turning the confrontation into a knife fight.

“The scuffle went on for eight to 10 seconds, enough for him to realise that I'm up to some serious business as well. I'm not here to scare off,” he told 7 News.

"I just managed to get hold of it [the boxcutter], by the time I get it and turn back he is over me. And I'm pinned agains tthe wall - the door is shut of course. I had only one way to go which is to march forward,” Mr Shukla said.

He was slashed on the arm by the bandit, but still managed to drive him backwards.

When his attacker grabbed a metal kitchen tool, Mr Shukla responded by grabbing a broom. Photo: 7 News

On the back foot, the attacker grabbed a metal kitchen tool in desperation. The storeowner responded with a broom.

"When I saw him grabbing that I came back I wanted something longer - by this time my brain was really into it, the stress factor was gone in ten seconds - I got hold of this because it's longer."

Mr Shukla attributed his defence skills to a history of street fighting.

“I learned a little bit of street fighting in old days as many young people like to do - kept my arm at front to keep the distance."

A small-businessman with a young family, he said he had no choice.

Mr Shukla said he often works from sunrise to sundown and normally makes a couple of hundred dollars a day – an amount he said he couldn’t afford to lose.

Mr Shukla suffered a cut to his arm in the incident. Photo: 7 News

“People say if someone comes in just co-operate - just surrender - it's a matter of a couple of hundred dollars,” he told 7 News.

“It takes a lot of blood tears and sweat to make a couple of hundred dollars. It takes me a whole day to make a couple of hundred dollars."

Under the law, protecting your business or your home is a grey area where self-defence isn’t easily defined.

The legal terrain is complicated, where a split-second decision could land the victim in jail instead of the perpetrator.

Andrew Tiedt, a criminal law partner at Armstrong Legal, said a number of factors are taken into account with each case.

Mr Shukla said his business was his livelihood, and needed to protect it to put food on the table for his family. Photo: 7 News
Criminal lawyer Andrew Tiedt said protecting your business or your home could land you in jail depending on the action you take to defend it. Photo: 7 News

"What the law does is look at how afraid you were, how fearful you were for yourself, your family, your property and the law then weighs your conduct against that - was what you did reasonable in light of how fearful you were at that time."

Dhaval stands by his decision to defend himself, but understands it was a risky decision.

The attacker remains on the run.

News break – June 20