Updated: Thursday, 20th February 2020 @ 12:56pm

Old Trafford florist, 72, quizzed by police over fatal stabbing of robber - who was aquitted of murder in 2000

Old Trafford florist, 72, quizzed by police over fatal stabbing of robber - who was aquitted of murder in 2000

By Joe Dalton, Senior Crime Correspondent

A 72-year-old shopkeeper is being questioned on suspicion of murder today after an armed robber was stabbed to death in a bungled raid on his Old Trafford shop.

Gary Mullings, 30, suffered fatal knife wounds in a struggle with elderly florist owner Cecil Coley when a masked gang broke into the store on Tuesday night.

Mr Coley and his elderly friend were playing dominoes and drinking when the armed gang forcefully entered the shop demanding he hand over the takings.

Mullings, who was acquitted of murdering a teenager in Longsight nine years ago, came staggering from the shop with a wounded chest before collapsing outside the store on Shrewsbury Street.

Passers-by attempted to resuscitate Mullings before he was taken to Trafford General Hospital where he died a short time later.

An unnamed 19-year-old man later arrived at Manchester Royal Infirmary for treatment to stab wounds and was arrested by police on suspicion of attempted robbery.

Greater Manchester Police also confirmed that a gun was found at the scene.

Mr Coley, known affectionately as ‘Pudding’ to his friends, was also admitted to hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during the fracas.

He is said to be a respected and well-known figure in the local area and had recently retired from running the shop, handing it to his daughters after 40 years in charge.

The stabbing comes just days after the Crown Prosecution Service decided no charges should be brought against householder Peter Flanagan, 59, who was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal stabbing of a burglar.

Mr Flanagan, who lives in Pendlebury, Salford, just a few miles from this latest incident, was deemed to have acted in self-defence when four balaclava-clad men broke into his home.

Tuesday night’s events will further raise the pressure on the government to ratify new legislation clarifying the law on self-defence.

Last month, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said a householder who knifes an intruder will not have committed a criminal offence and people should be entitled to use "whatever force necessary" to protect themselves and their homes.