Brave shopkeepers sit on armed robber to foil raid

Wasim Choudray and Arshad Mehmood. Picture: Alexander Lawrie
Wasim Choudray and Arshad Mehmood. Picture: Alexander Lawrie
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A PAIR of shopkeepers pounced on a would-be armed robber – and sat on him until police arrived.

Wasim Choudray and Arshad Mehmood fought back and tackled armed robber Reece Hall – despite him aiming blows at them with a large butcher’s knife.

He was also armed with a hammer, yet despite their terrifying ordeal the pair prevailed. They have now been nominated for bravery awards. Speaking after Hall was jailed for attempting to rob Nungate Minimarket in Haddington, Mr Mehmood, 40, said: “I’ve never experienced anything so terrifying before but survival kicked in and we both knew it was either him or us.”

Hall burst into the shop on January 12 and demanded cash and alcohol. But instead of handing over the money, the shopkeepers pounced on the 21-year-old and wrestled the thug to the ground. Both staff were injured disarming him of his weapons.

Hall, from Haddington, was yesterday jailed for 12 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after admitting assaulting the men and attempted robbery.

He also admitted carrying an offensive weapon and having a blade in a public place. Mr Mehmood, from Edinburgh, added: “It was very early in the morning when he came into the shop and I immediately thought something wasn’t quite right.

“I called on my boss, who was outside the shop, to come in and the guy just started shouting ‘put everything in the bag, put everything in the bag’. He was wanting cash, cigarettes and drink but we decided he wasn’t going to get away with this. My boss grabbed him by the hand to try and get the knife off of him and it was then we noticed he was trying to grab something from behind his back. I got hold of his arm and it was then I noticed the hammer.

“We managed to get him on the ground and after a struggle we got the knife and hammer off him. We both ­suffered cuts to the hands during the struggle. Mr Choudray managed to get on top of him and keep him there until the police arrived. They only took a couple of minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.”

Mr Choudray, 38, from Edinburgh, said: “At the time I didn’t think too much about the dangers of tackling him but afterwards it really hit home as to what could have happened.”

Police Scotland Inspector Ian Mackay said: “Both shop staff showed great bravery and will be nominated for their meritorious conduct.”