Armed robber jailed for savage attack on city shopkeeper

Arfan Shariq in Gilmerton Newsagents.
Arfan Shariq in Gilmerton Newsagents.

AN armed robber who launched a savage attack on a defenceless shopkeeper has been jailed for more than three years.

Michael Connolly burst into Arfan Shariq’s Gilmerton store along with an unknown accomplice and demanded cash from the till.

But before a stunned Mr Shariq could react, one of the masked robbers began repeatedly plunging the knife into his arm.

Mr Shariq, 36, suffered blade wounds to his hands and arm during the “terrifying” robbery at the Gilmerton Newsagents last August.

A 75-year-old customer was forced to flee the store “fearing for his safety” as the two carried out the violent attack on the vulnerable shopkeeper.

Now the relieved store owner, who was robbed of £360, has praised the justice system after violent Connolly was jailed for 40 months this week.

Connolly, from Mavisbank, Loanhead, was sent to prison following an appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday after he had previously pleaded guilty to three charges – including the attack on Mr Shariq.

The 24-year-old also admitted stealing clothing from the Nike store at Straiton and brandishing a meat cleaver at garage staff and making off with more than £500 during a raid on an Esso service station.

Dad-of-three Mr Shariq said: “I had only opened the shop for about an hour when the two men came in. At first I thought it was a regular playing a joke on me as my shop is always really busy at that time and we are on a main road.

“But when one shouted ‘give me the money’ the other guy began sticking the knife into my arm. It was terrifying and he was stabbing me before I could hand over any cash.

“Luckily it was fairly cold that morning and I still had my jumper and jacket on as my injuries could have been much worse if I had my usual t-shirt on.

“I just stood back and let them take what they wanted as who knows what they were capable of and my life isn’t worth losing for a few hundred pounds. The whole thing was over in two minutes.

“I’m glad one of them has been jailed and I think it is a fair amount of time to get. I’m just glad one of them is off the streets for a while.”

Defending solicitor David Storrie told the court Connolly had not been the man who brandished the cleaver or who had attacked the shopkeeper, instead blaming it on his accomplice.

He added that Connolly had agreed to carry out the robberies to pay off “a considerable drug debt”.

Sheriff Frank Crowe told Connolly: “Your faces were masked and these were very frightening incidents. The public and shopkeepers have to be protected from conduct like this.”

Sheriff Crowe jailed Connolly for 40 months and told him he will be placed on a six-month offenders’ supervision order on his release.