Sunderland shopkeeper foils armed raid

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THIS is the dramatic moment that a shopkeeper was confronted by an armed raider.

But brave Rasaratnam Rahulan refused to hand over any cash and overpowered the would-be robber with the help of a customer at his Sunderland newsagent.

John Buckley, 31, of no fixed abode,  charged with attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm when committing an offence after an attempted robbery at News 2000 newsagents in Roker Avenue on August 5.'''submitted pics'please see Ross Robertson

John Buckley, 31, of no fixed abode, charged with attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm when committing an offence after an attempted robbery at News 2000 newsagents in Roker Avenue on August 5.'''submitted pics'please see Ross Robertson

The 33-year-old stood up to crook John Buckley before snatching the gun – which later turned out to be a replica – from his hands.

Courageous Rasaratnam said: “I didn’t know until later that it wasn’t a real gun until the police came. I don’t know what made me do it.

“I was talking to him for a couple of minutes then I just decided to grab the gun. I don’t know why.

“I thought if he was going to shoot me, he would have done it by then.”

Shocking CCTV footage – which can be viewed on the Echo’s website – shows the incident at News 2000, in Roker Avenue.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Buckley, 32, of no fixed abode, admitted attempted robbery and having an imitation firearm at the time of committing the offence.

Buckley went into the shop at about 8.50pm on August 5 and demanded cash.

The dramatic CCTV footage shows shopworker Rasaratnam being ordered to put his hands on the counter but refuses to comply.

Buckley continues to order Rasaratnam to hand over the cash and tells other customers to leave the store.

But when his back is turned for a brief moment, Rasaratnam grabs the gun and Buckley makes a run for it.

But he is tackled by a mystery customer who pins him to the ground until the police arrive.

Rasaratnam said he had been scared “for the first couple of seconds but then logic just took over and I knew I had to get the gun off him”.

He added: “I’m really thankful to the customer who helped out because if it wasn’t for him, when I’d grabbed the gun he would have run out of the shop and got away.

“Not everyone would do that. A lot of people would have run out of the shop straight away, but he stayed and helped, so I’m really grateful.”

He added: “I didn’t know he was going to support me. He used to be in the army, so he knew what to do.

“I bought him a bottle of nice vodka to say thank you.”

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Buckley’s barrister Robert Newcombe said the offence was committed against a background of alcohol abuse and suicide attempts by Buckley.

Mr Newcombe said: “It will be mitigation that this was a cry for help.

“Clearly it was extremely frightening for those concerned in the shop and he did have an imitation handgun but he was tackled immediately by a member of the public and the shop worker.

“There is CCTV and it is very clear.”

Prosecutors say the attack had “racist overtones”.

Judge Brian Forster adjourned the case until November 23 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report and Buckley was remanded in custody.

The judge told him: “It is in your own interest to co-operate with the probation officer who comes to speak to you because clearly any judge who considers the case will want to know why you did this, given it is not the type of thing you have done before.

“It is a very serious thing you have done and you must expect a custodial sentence.”

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