A CORK man has paid tribute to his crime-fighting daughter for saving him from pickpockets on two occasions.
Aileen Meere, from Grange, has defended her father, Tom Marshall, twice on holiday after he was targeted by criminals.
Tom, who is looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day with his daughter on Sunday, proudly claimed that she can throw a better punch than Mike Tyson.
“We were both on holidays in Spain along with mum, my two children and husband when the first incident happened.
“We were heading back on the train from the beach when it all kicked off. We got separated for a moment and I had this instinct that something was wrong.
“A man was trying to block him from getting on the train so the gang outside could go through his pockets.
“He was tall, in his mid-twenties and very respectable looking.”
When Aileen saw that her father’s pockets were being robbed she leapt to his defence. What happened next left passengers both stunned and amused.
“The first thing I did was shout ‘get off my dad!’
“I caught the guy and gave him the biggest sidewinder imaginable,” she said.
“It was a punch even Katie Taylor would have been proud of.
“He instantly ran away. My dad got on and the whole train burst into applause.
“Everyone was clapping except for one woman.
“That same woman later approached me and waving her finger said; ‘very good, but very dangerous!’
“She explained that these people carry knives and I was very lucky they didn’t fight back.”
Nevertheless, Aileen’s father couldn’t hide his pride.
“Dad never knew I had that strength in me.
“If he did he would have signed me up for boxing as a child.
“Before that, I had always looked at my husband as my protector.”
She remembered the adrenaline rush that followed the event.
“I must have been buzzing for about an hour after it,” she said.
This wasn’t Tom’s only narrow escape while in Spain.
“The second time my dad had what looked and smelled like animal faeces fall on him,” she said.
“We couldn’t be sure exactly what it was, but it was really disgusting. When I looked out I saw a man standing at his window above and immediately knew he had something to do with it.”
Aileen soon realised the animal faeces were nothing more than a distraction tactic.
“Dad’s whole shirt was completely destroyed.
“I looked up to see what kind of animal this could have come from. It was at that moment that a man came over and ushered my dad down a narrow alleyway to help.
“He kept telling him that he would be able to help. When I called for my husband he immediately bolted. Before that, he thought it had been just me, mum and dad.”
The family has always come to each other’s aid.
“If something goes wrong for one person the rest will come running.”
Tom was immensely proud of his daughter.
“You know Mike Tyson,” he said.
“My daughter can throw a better punch than him. Only for Aileen, I would have been wiped out that day.”
Tom regards his whole family as heroic.
“In recent times my health has taken a nosedive,” he added.
“I was diagnosed with a condition known as Pulmonary hypertension which affects the lungs and means I am on oxygen 24 hours a day.
“My whole family have been extremely good to me. When I was in hospital I was never without a visitor.”
Aileen warned holidaymakers to be mindful of pickpockets when abroad.
“Whether you go to Spain, Italy or France it doesn’t matter,” she said.
“This is happening all over the world so you have to stay switched on wherever you are.”