A supermarket manager was taken to hospital after being attacked by a well-meaning passerby as he challenged shoplifters trying to flee his store.

Jonathan Launchbury, who runs Iceland in Tolworth Broadway, is still recovering after being punched in the face trying to prevent two women stealing frozen food on Monday morning.

According to witnesses, the unknown man intervened believing he was protecting the two women from attack, flooring Mr Launchbury.

The brave store manager, thought to be in his 50s, managed to stop the pair stealing, but could not prevent them from getting away.

Worker Mathew De-Gannes, 23, confirmed his boss was yet to return to work.

He said: “It was a confusing situation because Jonathan was holding on to the bags trying to stop the two women stealing.

"The man thought the women were in danger and punched him to try to protect them."

A shop worker who asked not to be named said the manager took a pretty nasty blow to the head, and was not expected back at work for a while.

A manager, stepping in for Mr Launchbury, said the store could not comment until they had spoken to head office.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said the passerby may still face assault charges despite his well-intentioned intervention.

She said: “Our first job is to establish whether a crime has been committed and then we would follow the public interest test and the context of the attack before deciding whether to proceed.”

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service confirmed the manager was taken to hospital with head injuries, though could not say if he had been released.

A spokeswoman from Iceland head office said: “As far as we know this was a very serious incident with our shopkeeper being taken away in an ambulance and another man being taken away by police.

“This is now a police matter and we continue to help them with their inquiries.”

Two people are still being sought for the theft. One man has been arrested for an assault which occurred in the car park, following the theft. He was bailed pending further inquiries.

It is believed a number of shoppers were in the car park when the assault took place.

They are asked to call Detective Constable Dave Norman on 020 8721 5842.