Grandmother chases armed robbers

VIDEO: North Devon woman stands up to thieves after they attack Knowle Garage near Braunton.

A BRAVE North Devon grandmother who was threatened with a meat cleaver during a terrifying armed robbery has told how she chased the thieves off the premises.

Trude Mian, 65, was finishing up her shift at Knowle Garage petrol station near Braunton just before 8pm on Saturday when two menacing balaclava-clad figures wielding a cleaver and a large knife burst through the door.

“They were shouting ‘give us your f***ing money’,” said the wife of garage owner Khaliq Mian.

“One ran around the counter and I tried to dial 999, but with his meat cleaver he whacked the phone several times and then pushed me.”

The hooded raiders demanded she open the till, then demanded to be shown the safe. Mrs Mian told them she would have to get past them to get to it and as she did so, managed to push the panic button under the counter.

“Unknown to them I didn’t do it properly, but the other shouted ‘she has pressed the alarm’ and they ran out. He left his knife on the counter so I picked it up and ran after them,” she said.

Most Read

“If the chap with the meat cleaver should suddenly turn around I thought I at least had something to defend myself with – I wanted to go down fighting if I had to go down at all.”

After they had fled the scene Mrs Mian dialled 999 and was full of praise for the swift response: “While I was still talking to the lady on the phone the police had turned up outside,” she said.

“They were absolutely wonderful and all the way through the police were kind and considerate.”

A helicopter and dog units were called in to search for the offenders, who police believe managed to get away with just �50 in cash.

One is described as wearing a grey ‘ultra magnetic’ hooded top whilst the other was wearing very dark or black clothing with dark trainers bearing ‘Adidas’ style white stripes on the sides. The knife left behind is described as a ‘Kitchen Devil’ chef’s knife.

Door to door inquiries have been carried out and as yet no suspects have been apprehended, but Detective Inspector Dave Atkinson of Barnstaple CID said a number of items had been recovered, including the meat cleaver.

“We would suspect these people were watching the place before the incident, so if anybody who was around Knowle Garage beforehand saw anything, or anybody hanging around, please get in touch,” he said.

“It is an unusual incident and a very nasty violent one, so the sooner we can lock these people up the better. It is a minor miracle she was not cut, she was very lucky.”

Detective Sergeant Paul McWhinnie added: “We would like to hear from any shop keepers who believe they may have sold the cleaver and ‘Kitchen Devil’ knife or from anyone who is now missing these items and who suspects a family member or someone they know may be involved in this despicable crime.”

Aside from an opportunist thief who grabbed money from the till earlier this year, it is the first time the garage has suffered a robbery, let alone such an aggressive one.

A staff meeting was planned on Monday evening to look at ways of preventing such a thing happening again. Mrs Mian was also back at work on Monday, despite being tired from her ordeal and a lack of sleep:

“I wanted to face the demons,” she said.

“Everybody has been so kind – customers have been giving me flowers, it’s very nice. The police have really been good and I think they deserve recognition.”

Anyone with information about the robbery just before 8pm on Saturday is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously if need be, on 0800 555111, quoting reference CN/12/454.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter