'She kept a cool head': Teenager uses her karate skills to fend off would-be attacker

Kate Mulhern.

A worried mum has urged parents to make sure their children can defend themselves after her teenage daughter managed to fend off a would-be attacker on Tuesday afternoon.

Hazel Mulhern said her 17-year-old daughter Kate was walking their new puppy not far from their home at Blackcastle Demense in Navan, Co Meath at 2pm when the incident occurred.

Unfortunately for the man, Kate is a brown belt in Karate and has represented Ireland twice last year as well as competing in the World Championships in Tenerife in 2017.

Hazel said: "Kate had been walking the pup along the main Navan to Slane Road before she turned into the estate and noticed someone behind her. She knew something wasn't quite right so she texted her friend to say that she thought a man was following her.

"She had turned into the estate near our home when the man overtook her and then turned back to try and grab her.

"Kate saw another man in a car parked nearby. The pup started growling and barking and whatever way the man grabbed her arm, Kate saw an opening and thankfully remembered her kempo training.

She kicked him hard in the ribs and he fell back against the car, before getting into it and speeding off.

She said both men looked to be in their 40s with the attacker wearing a black hat and navy zip-up fleece. She said the car was an old black saloon.

'Make sure your kids can defend themselves'

Hazel is now urging parents to look into getting their children self-defence lessons.

"My daughter is ok but very shook up. Please, please parents make sure your kids know how to defend themselves. It's so, so important because that is what saved her.

"She has competed at world level but it's a different story when you are placed in danger and panic sets in. Thankfully, she kept a cool head and all her training literally kicked into place.

The young woman trains with Paul Brennan, an Irish Kenpo Karate Union chief instructor in Dublin.

Meanwhile instructor Gerard Curran of Johnstown Kenpo Karate Club, where the teenager sometimes helps in sparring with younger children also encouraged parents to get their children lessons in self-defence.

"It's terrible to think that any young woman should be put in danger like that but thankfully she is highly skilled and used those moves, the moves we also strive to teach kids how to defend themselves here."

Hazel said she reported the attack to local gardaí.

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