Postmistress tells of raid terror

A DEFIANT post office worker has described how she bravely repelled a man with a gun who was demanding money. Helen Burke said she acted purely on impulse when she refused to open the post office safe in Clacton Road, Thorrington, yesterday - just seven months after her daughter was held at knifepoint in the same shop.

A DEFIANT post office worker has described how she bravely repelled a man with a gun who was demanding money.

Helen Burke said she acted purely on impulse when she refused to open the post office safe in Clacton Road, Thorrington, yesterday - just seven months after her daughter was held at knifepoint in the same shop.

The sub-postmistress joked she had not been brave, but “stupid” and the terrifying incident had made her more determined to sell up and leave.

She said she was working behind the post office counter when a man with a gun walked in at about 11.40am.


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“He just stood there,” Mrs Burke, 36, said. “He wasn't waving the gun, it was down by his side, but clearly visible.

“He looked at me and asked me to open the safe and give him the money.

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“But I told him I couldn't open it and I think that confused him. He just accepted it and left.

“There were three people in the shop at the time and I don't think they knew what was going on.

“My husband, Richard, came out from behind the back and ran to take the number of the car he got into, which we gave to the police straight away.”

She said it was only minutes later that the full horror of what could have happened sunk in.

“It was stupid, not brave, what I did. He could have done anything - I'll be having a brandy tonight.”

Only last August, her 17-year-old daughter, Toni, was held up at knife point along with another teenager working at the rural store.

On that occasion, a raider fled with cash from the shop area, leaving the two girls traumatised.

Mrs Burke said she had been sub-postmistress for more than four years and for the last two had been trying to sell up.

“The job is becoming more dangerous. We just want to get out now,” she added.

A spokesman for Essex Police said two people - a 34-year-old London man and a 41-year-old Colchester woman - had been arrested on suspicion of robbery and were last night being questioned at Clacton police station.

A Post Office spokeswoman said: “We take the security of our staff very seriously and we work very closely with the police.

“This would have been a very traumatic experience for the staff involved.”

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