A thief picked on the wrong person when she tried to mug a disabled pensioner who was a former national arm-wrestling champion.

Betty Jeffery, 76, was riding her motorised wheelchair along Maydells, Pitsea, on her way to a funeral at St Gabriels Church when she was passed by a young woman.

Seconds later, at about 12.30pm on Monday, the woman bent over the back of the wheelchair and grabbed hold of Mrs Jeffery’s handbag, which was by her feet.

However, the thief didn’t bank on the plucky pensioner holding onto the bag, yelling and fighting back.

Mrs Jeffery, who uses a wheelchair after she contracted Polio as a child, said: “She was trying to grab my bag and run but I held onto it.

“Her face was two inches away from my face so I punched it. She looked angry.

“She managed to grab the bag and run off back through Maydells and I started shouting ‘she’s got my bag’.”

Two men who overheard the commotion ran after the thief, who dropped the bag further down the road and fled.

They then called the police, comforted Mrs Jeffery and took her back to her home in Mill Green Place, Pitsea.

She added: “I would like to thank my good samaritans, especially Phil, and Kevin who bought me a me a cup of tea, and then escorted me home.

“There were a number of other people there as well, so thank you all.

“I am not a weakling. I ran a sports club for disabled people and I am a national arm-wrestling champion.

“She picked on the wrong person.

“I am not going to stop going out shopping, I will not become a victim of thieves.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “The 76-year-old woman was near Pembroke House in Pitsea on her mobility scooter when she was approached by a woman.

“She grabbed the victim’s bag which was placed between her feet on the scooter. After a struggle, the suspect ran off with the bag but dropped it further up the road.

“The suspect wore an olive green jacket with white writing down the side and a fur-lined hood.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Det Con Angie Coxon at Basildon CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.