Manchester

Prestwich father begged robbers who pointed gun at baby

Atif Mehraj
Image caption Atif Mehraj says he has been left with no choice but to sell the shop

A father whose baby had a gun pointed to her head as armed robbers raided his shop has spoken of their ordeal.

Atif Mehraj, 36, clutched his 15-month-old daughter to his chest while being screamed at to open his till at Gough News in Prestwich, Greater Manchester.

Meanwhile, his wife Christine had a meat cleaver lodged against her throat during the robbery on Tuesday.

"How could they threaten my little girl, why wouldn't they let me put her out of the way?" he said.

Mr Mehraj had been reading the newspapers and discussing the day's business with his wife when the two robbers burst into the shop brandishing a meat cleaver and a gun.

'Absolutely terrified'

"The only thing that was going through my mind was to keep my daughter Alyssa safe. One of the men pulled the gun out and held it in my face as I was holding her.

"I kept on putting her head to my chest to keep her away from the gun.

"I asked if I could put her in the back of the shop but he just turned and held the gun to her head and demanded that I open the till."

Mr Mehraj said there was hardly any cash because it had already been banked.

"He started screaming at me, where's the money, where's the money?

"The other man held the meat cleaver to my wife's throat and told her to put all the cigarettes in his bag. But she couldn't move because she was so petrified so he loaded up his bag himself."

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Media captionThe incident was captured on CCTV, as the BBC's Nick Ravenscroft explains

The robbers then fled, waving the gun at them as they ran off.

The couple say they are left with no choice but to sell the shop.

Mr Mehraj, who works as a British Gas engineer while his wife runs the store, said: "I can't go to work now and always be thinking what's going to happen to my wife and child today.

"She is just absolutely terrified, she came into drop some papers off earlier and she could only stay for a couple of minutes because the terror came flooding back."

Det Con Stephen Gaskell, of Bury CID, said: "To threaten a man while he held a young child in his arms is beneath contempt.

"The only saving grace is that she will be too young to remember this. However, her parents will not be so lucky - it will have left an indelible impression on them."

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