A SHOPKEEPER used his arm to block a foot-long axe swung at his head by a masked robber.
The blow was aimed at the shopkeeper during a botched raid which left him with an horrific arm injury.
The brave 44-year-old told today how he was ambushed by two raiders who sneaked in via the back door of Broomhouse Mini Market.
The business owner was just about to unpack a milk delivery when the men demanded he hand over the money. Having been the victim of previous robberies, the defiant shopkeeper refused to cave in to intimidation.
He was punched but responded by flooring one of his attackers with a jab to the jaw. Realising their well planned heist was going awry, one of the thugs then produced a foot-long hatchet, similar to the sort that would be used to chop firewood.
The terrified shopkeeper shouted at the 65-year-old woman he works with to call the police as he held off the two men. Eventually the axe wielder aimed a blow at the shop owner’s head but he was able to block it with his lower forearm, resulting in the horrific gash.
The men – realising things had taken a turn for the worse – scarpered, leaving their victim oozing blood at an alarming rate over the shop floor.
At one point, for no other reason than he thought it would help, he covered his arm with a plastic bag, only to find it rapidly filling with blood.
The man – who has just been released from hospital and is too afraid to be fully identified for fear of reprisal attacks – said he feels he is “lucky to be alive” following the horror ordeal.
He said: “My assistant was stacking shelves and I made a cup of tea in the kitchen. As I came out the kitchen, I suddenly saw these two guys, both dressed all in black and wearing masks.
“At first I thought it was a joke but they started shouting at me to give them keys to the safe and all the cigarettes. They kept shouting and the first man punched me on the nose. I fell to the floor then got up and punched him in the face and he fell down. I was shouting through to my assistant but she couldn’t hear because the door to the main shop was closed.”
The robbers became enraged at their stubborn victim and upped the ante.
“I was holding the arm of the man I punched, shouting ‘phone the police’. That’s when I saw the second man had a black axe, about a foot or a foot-and-a-half long.
“I got scared they could do anything. The second man raised the axe and swung it at my head. I put up my left arm and the axe hit me in the wrist. I didn’t feel anything at first. Then they turned and ran out the back door.”
The trembling female shop assistant managed to lock the door before she turned and noticed the extent of her colleague’s injuries.
“Blood was pouring on to the floor,” he said.
“I grabbed kitchen towels but they soaked through. I got a bath towel and that was getting soaked with blood. My head was spinning and I thought I would pass out. I put my arm in a plastic bag and it quickly started filling up with blood. I thought I was going to die.”
Police officers arrived on the scene just minutes after the robbers fled, and started to compress the wound with towels.
The shop owner, who bought the business in 2005, said: “I was in so much pain. I fell on to the floor and felt like I was in a dream. I was put on an ambulance stretcher and that’s the last thing I can remember.”
He was transferred from the ERI to St John’s in Livingston for a specialist operation by plastic surgeons. The painstaking procedure lasted two hours, leaving him with 15 stitches. Doctors have also told him he has suffered nerve damage in his hand and fingers and will require physiotherapy for at least the next year.
After being released from hospital on Monday afternoon, he returned to work yesterday morning and said: “In 2006 I was struck in the face with a bottle by a shoplifter and there’s been other robberies over the years although nothing compares to this. I could have died because the axe was going for my head.
“I would do the same thing again. I work 13 or 14 hours a day and I don’t want to hand over money to people who have not worked for it.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said they were continuing “to investigate an attempted robbery at the Broomhouse Mini Market on Friday”.
David Martin, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopkeepers are at the coal face. We believe they deserve the same sense of security as any government official in their workplace.”