Shopkeeper tells of moment robber pulled out gun

Michael Martin raided the Day-Today store. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Michael Martin raided the Day-Today store. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A SHOPKEEPER has told how she “almost had a heart attack” after an armed robber pointed a gun at her.

Father-of-three Michael Martin demanded Afshan Ahmed open a till before seizing cash during the raid at the Day-Today store in Lasswade Road.

Mrs Ahmed, 50, initially failed to comply with the robber’s demands, and when he did get his hands on the money she grabbed some of the cash back.

The brave shopkeeper was working alone and attempted to stall Martin in the hope a customer would come to her rescue.

Mrs Ahmed told the Evening News: “It was just so sudden. For the first few minutes I couldn’t breathe properly. I thought he was going to shoot me.

“I was trying to find something under the counter that I could hit him with, but I couldn’t find anything except a water bottle. I still get a bit jumpy when somebody comes in the shop – especially when I’m on my own. We’ve been in these premises for more than 18 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”

Martin, 45, was yesterday jailed for four years after the High Court in Edinburgh heard that he made no attempt to conceal his identity during the raid.

His solicitor advocate, Richard Souter, told the court that Martin carried out the robbery after his benefits were stopped. He said Martin had borrowed money from “inadvisable sources” and was warned there would be repercussions if he did not pay it back.

A judge told Martin that the court was “not unsympathetic”.

But Lord Glennie said that none of that justified armed robbery.

Martin later told police that he had used a water pistol, but it was discovered that he had used a gas-powered ball-bearing gun.

“The gun may have been a ball-bearing gun. You may have had no ammunition for it, but the shopkeeper was not to know that. As far as she was concerned this was an armed robbery that put her life in danger,” said the judge. He told Martin that he would have jailed him for six years for the offence, but for his early guilty plea.

Martin, of Soutra Road, admitted assaulting Mrs Ahmed on May 28 and robbing her of about £200.

Advocate depute Margaret Barron said Martin came in, walked straight to the counter and pointed the weapon at Mrs Ahmed and demanded she open the till.

“When she failed to do as instructed, the accused reached over the counter and attempted to open the till drawer himself and in the process of doing so he handled the till drawer and a key within it,” she said.

When the till was opened Martin seized cash. “Mrs Ahmed grabbed some of the money back as the accused attempted to make off,” said Ms Barron.

Mr Souter said Martin, a former building worker who has a previous conviction for assault and robbery, claimed that he had found the pistol in a skip. “He does accept that the article in question looked the part,” said Mr Souter.