Under-siege postmaster reveals terror

A PETRIFIED postmaster has spoken of the terrifying moment he was forced to lie face down on the floor while a masked raider aimed a sawn-off shotgun at him.

A PETRIFIED postmaster has spoken of the terrifying moment he was forced to lie face down on the floor while a masked raider aimed a sawn-off shotgun at him.

Graham Westley, who runs the Hacheston Post Office near Wickham Market, said he feared for his life during the robbery, which happened at around 4.45pm on Thursday.

The two-man raid was the fourth time Mr Westley's shop has been targeted in a year – and it has left him questioning his future.

In past robberies, the 39-year-old has had a sharp implement placed against his neck, a bag put over his head and his mouth taped up.

But he said that the latest raid, in which he was forced to hand over an unknown amount of money, was "by far the worst."

He added: "I am not sure how much more I can take, or how much more the post office can lose. I am not prepared to keep having guns pointed at me."

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Of the latest robbery, Mr Westley recalled: "The man just banged open the door and came running in.

"He shouted 'give me the money' – it was just sheer terror. I handed over the cash but then he got me to lie face down on the floor while he pointed a gun at me.

"I didn't know why he was doing that and I really thought he was going to shoot. I was physically sick when they left."

The two robbers, who were wearing black balaclavas, then fled the shop, knocking down a display unit as they went, before racing off on what Mr Westley believes was a high-speed motorbike.

He added: "If I hadn't opened today I probably wouldn't have come back at all, but I didn't want to let people down.

"People around here are very angry about what has happened."

Jon Richardson, regional secretary of the National Federation of Sub-postmasters, described the number of raids at the Hacheston office as "very unusual". There have been three robberies and one burglary in the last year.

He added: "Once is bad enough and twice is very unlucky but four times is just unbelievable.

"It is very, very worrying, particularly as these people are armed and they are going in very hard by the sound of it.

"I'm going to try and get hold of the police to see what more can be done, and I've already been in touch with the Post Office.

"It is very difficult to put in any security other than that which they already have anyway. The trouble is, when people are armed like in the latest raid, there's not a lot you can do.

"The only other thing which could improve matters is if the police could ensure their response times are better.

"We've just got to hope that the police catch them and they are put away for a long time."

The Hacheston raid is the latest in a long line of terrifying robberies carried out around the county this year - a fact which may leave many postmasters questioning whether they should continue in the business.

"It's most definitely a concern that people might just decide to call it a day - especially the older postmasters." added Mr Richardson.

"We are struggling enough as it is. It worries me a great deal."

Suffolk police are not linking the four robberies at Hacheston, and have said it is also too early to determine whether the latest raid could be linked to others around the county.

They have an ongoing campaign, Operation Penny, launched earlier this year to try and protest post office in the county.

Anyone with information about the robbery is urged to call Woodbridge Police on 01473 613500, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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