Punters in bookmakers' hailed heroes

STEPHEN PULLINGER Punters in a Yarmouth bookmakers' shop were last night hailed as heroes after coming to the aid of a female employee threatened by two armed robbers. The raiders, their faces partially hidden by crash helmets and scarves, confronted the deputy manager at Corals Racing, in St Peter's Road, at about 9.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Punters in a Yarmouth bookmakers' shop were last night hailed as heroes after coming to the aid of a female employee threatened by two armed robbers.

The raiders, their faces partially hidden by crash helmets and scarves, confronted the deputy manager at Corals Racing, in St Peter's Road, at about 9.30pm on Thursday.

While one threatened the terrified woman with a screwdriver, his accomplice, believed to have a handgun in his waistband, vaulted over the counter.

Two of the three customers, who were watching a late evening horse race, chased the pair out after a brief struggle.

They pursued them to nearby Portland Place, where the raiders made their escaped - empty-handed - on a blue and green motorbike.

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Branch manager Mike Hall, 54, said: “The customers were certainly brave and, thankfully, everything worked out for the best.

“People react on the spur of the moment, but there was always the scenario where things could have turned out worse.”

Mr Hall, who has worked at the shop for 16 years and been visiting it for 25 years, said he could not remember a similar incident in living memory.

“We are all shaken up. My deputy manager did not sleep at all last night and I am hoping time will be a healer,” he said.

Mr Hall stressed that money on the premises was always kept secure.

Witnesses have described the robbers as about 20-years-old, white or tanned.

Police spokesman Jon Smith said the raid was not immediately being connected to one last month on Futters bookmakers, in the town's Beaconsfield Road, when two youths got away with about £1,500 after threatening an employee with a carving knife.

He said: “Officers will be looking to see if there is any connection between the incidents.”

Mr Smith also praised the bravery of the customers, but said police advice to the public was not to get involved in incidents involving knives of firearms.

Anyone in the area around the time of the incident, who has information about the crime or the two men and the motorbike, is asked to call Yarmouth CID on 0845 4564567.