East Lothian crime: Teenage shopkeeper fights off axe-wielding female attacker who stole alcohol from his shop

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Shop assistant manager from Edinburgh relives terrifying attack after guilty plea

A teenage shopkeeper from Edinburgh fought off a crazed axe-wielding attacker who had stolen alcohol from his East Lothian store.

Areeb Choudry was working behind the counter of his father’s small shop when a local thug walked in and grabbed two cans of alcohol before running out into the street in Haddington.

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Areeb and a colleague chased after thief Natalie Carmichael, 42, but were left shocked when she turned and confronted them before pulling out “a very large axe” from a bag she was carrying. Carmichael then swung the axe at the pair forcing the 18-year-old assistant manager to duck out the way before he managed to grab hold of the weapon during the struggle in February this year.

Areeb Choudry was working behind the counter of his father’s small shop when a local thug walked in and grabbed two cans of alcohol before running out into the street in Haddington, East Lothian.Areeb Choudry was working behind the counter of his father’s small shop when a local thug walked in and grabbed two cans of alcohol before running out into the street in Haddington, East Lothian.
Areeb Choudry was working behind the counter of his father’s small shop when a local thug walked in and grabbed two cans of alcohol before running out into the street in Haddington, East Lothian. | AL

Areeb disarmed the drunk lout and after a shocked neighbour witnessed the violent disturbance outside the Nungate Mini-Market shop the police were alerted. 

Speaking about the incident, Areeb, from Edinburgh, said: “We have had trouble with her before and this was the second time she had come in to the shop that particular day.

“The first time I refused to serve her alcohol because she was very drunk and it is against the law so she was pretty angry about that. She came back in just as we were closing at 8pm and took some cans from the shelf before running out into the street. 

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“I know it was pretty stupid thing to do but me and another worker ran out after her but it was a spur of the moment decision to go after her.

“We didn’t know she had a weapon on her but as soon as she saw we had come outside she stopped and turned round to confront us. That’s when she pulled out a very large axe from a bag.

“I didn’t really have time to react before she swung the axe at us and I had to duck out the way to avoid being hit. I then grabbed the axe and managed to get it off her after a short struggle.

“Looking back, it was quite terrifying and all I could think about was my family and how my parents would have reacted if something bad had happened to me.

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“My dad told me I was daft for going after her as it was only a couple of cans of alcohol but I didn’t really think things would escalate as they did.”

Areeb Choudry pictured outside the Nungate Mini-Market shop in Haddington.Areeb Choudry pictured outside the Nungate Mini-Market shop in Haddington.
Areeb Choudry pictured outside the Nungate Mini-Market shop in Haddington. | AL

The brave teenager said he was “very relieved” when the police arrived on the scene soon after a neighbour had called them after hearing the disturbance.

He added: “She had run off by the time the police got here but they found her really quickly hiding nearby and I have to say the officers were great with us.”

Carmichael pleaded guilty to charges of possessing an axe, assault, shoplifting and behaving in a threatening manner when she appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on April 22. Sheriff Peter McCormack deferred sentence for social work reports to later this month.

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