Larne takeaway staff shield pregnant woman from robber with gun

The Hillstop on Upper Cairncastle Road. INLT 04-685-VL
The Hillstop on Upper Cairncastle Road. INLT 04-685-VL

A Larne takeaway worker has praised her colleagues’ bravery after they shielded their pregnant co-worker during the second armed robbery at the premises in two days.

Hillstop Chip Shop worker Ann Liddle spoke to the Times after the business was targeted on both Wednesday January 13 and Thursday January 14.

During the first incident, which took place at approximately 1.30pm on the Upper Cairncastle Road, a man armed with a suspected firearm entered the shop and made off with a sum of cash.

The two staff members were left shaken following the incident, but were not injured.

The second incident occurred at around 4.15pm on Thursday, when three members of staff – one of whom was seven months’ pregnant – were on duty.

Ann told the Times: “Our staff have been left traumatised, it is unbelievable that this has happened twice in two days.

“We have had to close the shop for the girls’ safety, and so they can recuperate.

“In the first incident, the man came in the side door and demanded money, then he got it out of the till and he was holding a gun.

“In the second incident, he jumped over the counter. There were three girls on duty, one of them seven months’ pregnant, and he told them to open it or he would ‘pop them in the face: one, two, three’.

“He held the gun to their faces and the other two girls stepped in front of the pregnant girl to protect her.

“They were so brave, they shielded the girl who was pregnant and I can’t praise them enough.”

The Hillstop Chip Shop opened on the Upper Cairncastle Road 20 years ago, and Ann, who has worked there throughout that time, says it is the first time something like this has happened.

“We are a small business, in a row of small shops, and we are here to serve the community,” she continued.

“I hope that the person who did this realises the trauma they have caused our staff, especially the pregnant one, and the local community.

“We would have elderly people coming in here, people on their own who rely on us, and we have had to close our business.

“The girls who were working on Wednesday night were different to those working on Thursday, so in total five girls were affected by this incident.”

While the Hill Stop Chip Shop is currently closed, it will reopen on Monday with increased security.

Police have described the man in the first incident as aged in his late teens or early twenties, about 5’8” tall and of medium build. He was wearing a black scarf over his face, a black hooded top, black jogging bottoms and latex gloves. The man in the second incident is also described as being aged in his late teens or early 20s, about 5’10” tall and of slim/medium build. He was wearing a black scarf over his face, black jogging bottoms and gloves.

When asked if they were linking the two incidents, police said that they were “following all lines of enquiry.”

Det Sgt Crothers said: “I would ask anyone with any information about this incident to contact detectives at Larne Police Station on the non-emergency number 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”