A SHOP OWNER says he feared for his life when he was brutally beaten with a lump hammer during an armed robbery in Wigan.
The 34-year-old has been left with both physical and emotional scars by the attack by three men as he opened up his Thoroughgood store on Warrington Road in Platt Bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning.
As he raised the shop’s metal shutters at around 4.30am, one of the offenders, who was armed with a lump hammer grabbed him from behind and forced him inside.
At one point during the terrifying experience the dad of three, who wished not to be named, admitted he feared he would be killed.
He said: “I definitely thought my life was over. I got a right good beating, he grabbed my neck and was just screaming and shouting and continuously punching and hitting me with the lump hammer.
“It was terrifying, I had visions of them killing me, and leaving my body in the back and nobody would ever know I was there.
“At first I just thought there was one of them. It was pitch black and he took me straight to the back of the shop but then the door opened again and for a split second I was so relieved as I thought it was a customer.
“But two more males entered dressed all in black wearing balaclavas, I was so frightened, it just caught me by surprise, I was shocked.
“They locked me in the toilet and my legs just turned to jelly. I couldn’t stop being sick, they had winded me and beat me so much.
“I can’t even begin to describe how I felt at the time, it was unbelievable - a nightmare. They were smashing everything up in the shop and they just ransacked it all, they were crazy.
“I called the police instantly but it took them about 10 to 12 minutes to arrive. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.
“I can’t even remember coming out of the toilet, my whole body just shut down.
“The trauma is unbelievable, I can’t sleep and I just keep recalling the whole incident in my head.
“But I won’t let them beat me. I’m here to provide for the community and I won’t let them see me closed.”
Having only bought the store just three months ago, the thieves took all of the cigarettes, spirits and a lot of money as well as ripping out the security and CCTV system which had only recently been installed.
The shop owner has urged anybody to come forward if they have any information.
He added: “I have only been here for three months and have been welcomed into the community with open arms.
“Everybody has been so friendly, a lot of people in the area know me and now this happens. I owned a shop near Old Trafford Stadium for more than 18 years and nothing like this has ever happened before.
“The thieves are dangerous and they definitely knew what they were doing.
“I’ve been living in fear ever since, worried that they’ll come back. It just can’t happen to anybody else, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that.”
Two of the men were just over 6ft tall and one was around 5ft 8 or 9ins and each spoke with a local accent.
If anybody has any information or offered cheap cigarettes or alcohol from anybody else other than a licensed dealer then contact police on 0161 856 7292 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.