Express & Star

Shop owner rewarded by court after fighting off armed raiders

A courageous corner shop owner and two other men have been rewarded for their bravery during a terrifying armed raid on the store.

Lifestyle Express on Powell Street, Park Village. Picture: Google

Two masked men, each armed with a large knife and dressed from head to foot in black, burst into Lifestyle Express on Powell Street, Park Village at 8.30pm on July 28, a judge heard.

One barked orders and threatened to stab shop owner Hipash Patel and his cashier Daniel Heeley while the other stood guard at the front door, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

But the two men working in the store ignored the danger of being knifed, confronted the intruders and tried to detain them, said Mr Andrew Wallace, prosecuting.

Mr Patel was wrestled to the floor and had a knife held to his stomach but got back up.

Then he and Mr Heeley grappled with Gurjeet Ponach and the second robber as other members of Mr Patel’s family joined in.

Ponach struggled fiercely to break free as the fracas spilled out onto the pavement where another of the helpers, Conrad Brissett, who had grabbed a baseball bat to protect himself, halted the 19-year-old’s bid to get away, the court heard.

The other robber fled empty-handed before realising his partner had been captured and returned to the scene where he tried unsuccessfully to break into the shop and rescue him, it was said.

Mr Curtis Myrie, defending, said Ponach, who was of previous good character, only became violent while trying to resist arrest and did not use his knife but fully accepted responsibility for what happened.

“It was completely out of character,” concluded the barrister.

The defendant, from Pinfold Gardens, Wednesfield, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a knife. He was given three years detention in a Young Offenders Institution.

Judge Michael Challinor told him: “You terrorised the occupants of the shop. People who work in these stores are frequently worried they are going to be the subject of an offence like this.”

The Judge ordered that Mr Patel, Mr Heeley and Mr Brissett should each receive a commendation and £250 from public funds as reward for their courage.

He explained: “Had they not reacted in the way they did this offender would not have been caught. They showed considerable bravery.”

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