WHEN three muggers picked out Oxford actor Tom Clews to steal his cash in the street, they chose the wrong man.

Perhaps they should have decided a 20-year-old carrying a 3ft-long broadsword wasn't the ideal target, but they carried on as they pinched a £20 note from his hand and ran away down the road.

But Mr Clews - who was starring as Greek mythical hero Odysseus at the Edinburgh Fringe - chased them down while bare-chested and brandishing his solid-metal stage weapon.

Mr Clews, from Headington, tripped up one of the gang with his sword then wrestled with them in the street before snatching his money back.

When police arrived they hauled in the gang because they were wanted for a similar theft on festival-goers earlier that evening.

Mr Clews said: "I didn't know what I was thinking. I thought here I am in a scrap in the street with a sword and I am going to be in serious trouble.

"But the police said they were wanted for another theft earlier in the night. They kind of saved me really."

Mr Clews was in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh with colleagues after finishing a performance at the Fringe.

As they approached the hostel where they were staying a cast member handed Mr Clews a £20 note to buy some food.

But the youths barged into them and snatched the money.

Mr Clews, who practises the martial art Tae Kwon Do and plans to study Fight Choreography and Stage Combat, said yesterday: "I followed them hurling abuse and something hit in me in the face, I don't know what it was, but I didn't get any cuts or scars.

"I used the sword to stab one of them in the leg and when I confronted them, we had a little bit of a scrap, and I got the £20 back.

"In the middle of it I was thinking if I go for them with this sword I would be in serious trouble'."

The former student at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College in Oxpens Road had been performing in The Odyssey every evening for two weeks with the Live Wire Theatre Group.

A spokesman for the theatre group said: "He doesn't exactly look like the sort of person you would rob anyway, let alone when he is in character, and these young guys really did pick on the wrong man.

"He has been on the Fringe with us before, last year when he played Hector in The Iliad, so he's used to playing heroes, but now he can say he really is one."

Three men were questioned by police.