Shopkeeper who defied petrol attack fears assailant may strike elsewhere

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop th

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop threatening to ignite some petrol but quickly fled. Owner Yogarajah Krishnapillai who was working behind the till at the time. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A brave shop owner who refused to hand over cash when a robber threatened to set him alight has spoken of his fear his assailant may strike elsewhere, with devastating consequences.

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop th

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop threatening to ignite some petrol but quickly fled. Owner Yogarajah Krishnapillai who was working behind the till at the time. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Yogarajah Krishnapillai talked about his concerns after police revealed a 36-year-old man they had arrested following the attack, and a similar incident involving a woman in the Pottergate area the week before, would face 'no further action'.

Police had arrested the man on suspicion of robbery and drugs offences, but have now confirmed they are still investigating the robberies, and renewed their appeal for anyone with information to contact them.

Mr Krishnapillai said he had scaled back the opening times of his Hotblack Store, in Hotblack Road, Norwich, following his terrifying ordeal on June 4, when a man wearing a balaclava rushed in and sprayed liquid – believed to be petrol – over him, while holding a lighter.

The man had demanded money, but fled after the shop owner ducked down behind the counter.

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop th

The Hotblack Store on Hotblack Road which had an attempted robbery. The person came into the shop threatening to ignite some petrol but quickly fled. Owner Yogarajah Krishnapillai who was working behind the till at the time. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Mr Krishnapillai said: '[The closing time] used to be 11pm, but I was hoping to bring it up to midnight, but then after that incident I was a little worried and changed the hours to 10.30pm.'

He described his family as 'just worried a little bit' since the attack.

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Neighbours have rallied around Mr Krishnapillai, expressing sympathy about what he had been through, but he added: 'They were scared as well. We have never had this in the area before. It was a bit of a shock to the community.

'Most people are worried. They always say 'don't stay open for long hours'.'

He said he felt safer now, because police keep in touch with him, and did not think the attacker would return to his store, but said of his attacker 'maybe this person will do it somewhere else', and warned a repeat attack could lead to a fireball that would set all paper within two metres alight.

Mr Krishnapillai now keeps a copy of the Evening News front page which hailed him as 'The face of courage' under his counter, so he could show anyone 'scary' who entered his shop that he would stand his ground if they threatened him.

As previously reported, the Norwich Evening News offered a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shop owner's attacker.

•Anyone with information should contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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