Charity worker knife victim feared she would be raped

A WOMAN who was cut with a knife during an assault at a charity shop in broad daylight feared she would be raped by her attacker.

The 49-year-old shop manager was alone in the Drop Inn Ministries store on the Lurgan Road last Monday afternoon when a man who had visited the shop earlier that day returned.

The man, thought to be no older than 20 and with a scruffy appearance, had enquired about clothes and a place to stay and said he would come back to the shop later. The shop manager had clothes and information leaflets prepared for the man on his return and had started to explain how she could help him when he pulled a knife from his pocket.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, was then grabbed by her attacker as he threatened her and demanded money. Her husband described the horrorifying attack which, he said, had left his wife in a severe state of shock.

“She was trying to help him when he took his hands from his pockets and she saw he was wearing gloves and had a knife,” he told the Leader. “He held the knife to her neck and frogmarched her to the other end of the shop.

“She thought he was going to do something more sinister. He grabbed her phone and started to cut away her clothes and her underwear.” During the struggle the woman sustained cuts to her stomach, neck and wrists. The attacker, who also took the woman’s phone, demanded money and the woman was able to open the till.

“He just took what was in the till,” added her husband. “Then he ran out of the shop but he hesitated so my wife was able to grab some of the money back. She was in such shock that she doesn’t even know which way he went when he left the shop.”

After the shocking assault the woman rushed to lock the door and then hid, fearing her attacker might return. When she was able to compose herself she drove to her church in Lurgan where friends called the emergency services.

The ordeal has left the woman in a state of shock. “She had just been recovering from an injury to her tailbone when this happened,” explained her husband. “During the ordeal she landed on an artificial tree so she’s been left with a pain in her back again.”

Despite the seriousness of the assault the victim said she is determined to remain in the shop and wants to continue helping people.

“While she has been left traumatised by the whole thing my wife said she won’t let it put her off doing what we do here in the shop,” said her husband. “She kept saying to me after it happened ‘All I was trying to do was to help the fella’. But she was back in the shop two days after it happened - she had other people with her and she managed to stay the whole day.

“We are just thankful this wasn’t more serious and that nothing more happened. The cuts are superficial fortunately.”

Since the incident Drop Inn Ministries, which runs more than 20 shops across Northern Ireland, have agreed to introduce a policy ensuring there are at least two staff members in the shop at any one time.

The man is described as being 5ft 6ins tall, of slim build, swarthy complexion and scruffy appearance with very short, shaved hair. Police, who did a leaflet drop in the area in the days following the attack, have appealed for information on 0845 600 8000 or 0800 555 111.

UPDATE: Detectives in Banbridge are reissuing their appeal for information following an assault and robbery in the Lurgan Road area.

At approximately 4pm on Monday, 20 June, a male person entered a charity shop. He had a knife in his possession and threatened and assaulted the female member of staff before running off with a sum of cash.

The female sustained lacerations to her neck and wrists.

The assailant is described as being 5ft 6in tall, of slim build, swarthy complexion and scruffy appearance with very short, shaved hair. He was wearing jeans, a grey t-shirt and Moses sandals. It is believed he made off on foot along Lurgan Road.

Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed this male entering or leaving the premises or has information in relation to this incident to contact them at Lurgan CID on 0845 600 8000. If you prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.