The fearless Londoner who single-handedly tackled two moped thieves in the street while wearing pyjama shorts is a former amateur rugby player who boxes three times a week, MailOnline can reveal.
Stephen Canny, 33, a commodities broker from Essex, said: ‘Of course I’d do it again. If it happened again tonight, I’d do the same thing again and I wouldn’t even think about it.’
He added: ‘Why should I allow people to break into my property and damage my vehicle? Where I come from, that’s not acceptable.
‘I’m absolutely not having someone rob my car with me sitting upstairs. If I’m out and it happens, there’s nothing I can do about it. But not when I’m sitting upstairs.’
Stephen Canny (pictured) ran outside and confronted the men who were trying to break into his car
Mr Canny, 33, (pictured with his black Mercedes) is a commodities broker who boxes three times a week
The brave amateur rugby player got one of the men in a headlock and wrestled him to the ground
Mr Canny was in his first floor flat in Chelsea at 9.30pm on Wednesday night with fiancée Susie Prynne, 39, an HR director, finalising plans for their wedding in three weeks’ time.
Suddenly they heard loud voices in the street, followed by a loud smash. Without a thought for his own safety, Mr Canny sprang into action, charging outside and launching himself at two masked moped gangsters.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he said: ‘By the time I got out the front door, one guy had smashed the window to my car.
‘A second guy was smashing another vehicle, which was also an A-class Mercedes like mine.
‘I came flying out wearing a pair of pyjama shorts and a summer jumper and one of them ran round the car and just came straight at me, which was the reason I managed to stop him.
‘I used to play a lot of rugby, so I hit him with a shoulder and then I punched him a couple of times. I broke the visor clean off his helmet, which was one of those half-helmets with no jaw protector.
‘He swung a quick sequence of frenetic punches, clearly shocked by my intervention. We exchanged a few blows, but the idea was simply to stop him. I didn’t want to give him a kicking, but we did exchange blows.’
That was when the second masked moped rider stormed over to help his accomplice.
He added: ‘He grabbed my jumper and began to lay into me. I was fending one off and hitting the other one.
‘Then I think it dawned on them. They thought, sh**, I’ve just run into someone I don’t want to be running into.’
Dramatic video footage showed him single-handedly take the would-be thief to the ground
Mr Canny pinned the man on the ground and said that police thanked him for his brave efforts
Seeing he was outmatched, the second man got back onto his moped and raced away, leaving his partner facing Mr Canny alone.
‘Not a lot was going through my mind,’ he recalled. ‘My only thought was, those absolute f****** b*******, breaking into my car. The second guy’s hands were in back of my car.’
Mr Canny, who is 6’2 and weighs 17stone, was taller and heavier than the remaining suspect, who was about 5’10 and weighed approximately 14stone.
Nonetheless, the thief put up a fierce fight. ‘He had clearly done some training,’ Mr Canny said.
‘He was strong for small guy and from the look in his eyes I could tell he was off his head on something. He smelled strongly of marijuana.
‘He was just lashing out at me and trying to push me against the wall. We started grappling and I tried to sweep him.
‘It didn’t work, but then I managed to get behind him and fold his body in two. I knew that he would eventually run out of steam.
‘It was the sheer weight advantage allowed me to overpower him and stop him from getting away.’
Mr Canny sat astride the man and they continued to trade punches.
‘I held him on the ground,’ he said. ‘The guy was fighting, then he calmed down a bit, then he went at it again when he got his strength back.
His car’s rear window was smashed before he sprinted out of his door to take on the two men
Mr Canny also said that the pair tried to get into another Mercedes which was parked on the street
‘We heard sirens. At that point he panicked, and for a good minute-and-a-half he was really kicking off to get away.
‘Then he started apologising and offering to pay me and pay for the damage to the car.
‘I told him to calm down and said I wasn’t going to hurt him, but he had to stay here until the police came to take him away.
‘I told him to stop fighting me, as I didn’t want to have to hit him back.’
By this time, the man was sweating heavily and his helmet had entirely come off. He was struggling to breathe, and pulled down the balaclava he was wearing underneath the helmet to catch his breath.
‘That was when he started to threaten me,’ Mr Canny said. ‘He said that he knew where I lived and that he would come back. I didn’t take very kindly to that.
‘I said you’re not coming back anywhere mate, you do not threaten me like that. And we exchanged a couple more punches.’
In hindsight, Mr Canny admits that he put himself at risk. ‘If he’d have pulled a knife, I’d be in a lot of trouble,’ he said.
‘When I went out there I didn’t know what I’d find. There’s huge risk involved in putting yourself in that situation.’
He added: ‘I don’t feel like a hero. I’m just a person in the right place at the right time – or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you view it.’
But it seems the two men met their match as Mr Canny boxes three times a week and is a former rugby player
Noticing that a number of bystanders had started to film the fight, Mr Canny called for help. To his shock, none of them came to his aid.
‘I’m exchanging blows back and forth with the guy I caught and I called out to two gentlemen on the corner, this guy’s a lunatic, can you help me out with this?
‘They didn’t do a thing. There was a gentleman with a green jacket recording on his phone. I thought he was an absolute joke. He was more concerned with watching and filming the entertainment than helping someone in need.’
Mr Canny’s fiancée, who had alerted the police, came down and managed to take a picture of the suspect’s face which was later passed to officers.
Realising he had been overpowered, the alleged thief changed his tactics, saying that he had to be let go because he was ‘going to die’ and that he needed to ‘get his pills’.
But this ploy failed and within minutes the police arrived and took him into custody. When the suspect was searched, a large haul of phones and laptops was found in his bag.
‘The police were extremely thankful,’ Mr Canny said. ‘They said thanks to you catching him in the act, we have potentially solved 10 crimes by catching this guy.
‘The problem is, people think it’s become perfectly acceptable for a person to be taken down while committing a crime and then to sue the police or the good Samaritan who caught him.
‘I had no time to think, I just acted. But it was great that the police thanked me and didn’t give me a moment of bother.’
After the officers left, Mr Canny drank a bottle of wine with his fiancée to steady his nerves, but did not get to sleep until 4:30am, he said.
He pointed out that he has never been in a fight before apart from on the rugby pitch. ‘I never did martial arts, only rugby,’ he said.
‘I do boxing training twice a week at work and on the weekends sometimes. My fiancée trains with me. It’s not fighting or anything, but it helps with your technique. It’s things like that which give you an edge in these situations.’
The main reason that he instinctively confronted the suspect, however, was his family background. ‘I grew up in a big Irish family as the middle one of five boys,’ he said, ‘so wrestling each other and rugby with each other was a big part of life. We never got into fights but we were all into sport and super-competitive.’
Mr Campion attended Campion School, which in 2001 became the first comprehensive to ever win English school rugby’s Daily Mail Cup, now known as the Natwest Schools Cup. He was later considered for the Irish under-21 team.
After studying Management and Economics at Leeds Beckett University, he moved to London and got a job in finance, but trained regularly in boxing.
Mr Canny supports the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young, which works to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death. To donate, please visit: www.c-r-y.org.uk