Shop worker fought off knife robber

Jonathon Whitworth
Jonathon Whitworth

A HAVE a go hero shop worker bravely tackled a knife-wielding raider.

Vijayaradsalan Ponniah grappled with Jonathon Whitworth after he lunged at him with a six-inch kitchen knife and demanded he empty the till.

Despite being terrified and trapped behind the counter, Mr Ponniah bravely grabbed Whitworth’s wrists to stop him in his tracks.

Just minutes earlier, hapless Whitworth, 25, told a man outside in the street he was going to rob West View Supermarket in Miers Avenue, Hartlepool.

Mr Ponniah had agreed to help out at the family shop on Monday, July 30.

Whitworth walked in at 3.30pm and asked to speak to the boss.

When Mr Ponniah said he was not there Whitworth said he would go back later.

Sue Jacobs, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “Within seconds, however, he returned to the shop, again went to the counter leaned on it and asked for the manager.

“Mr Ponniah stated he should wait for the boss. The man walked to the head of the counter, started to walk round it and produced a large kitchen knife from within his hoodie.

“He shouted ‘give me the money, empty the till or I’m going to stab you’.

“Mr Ponniah was trapped behind the counter with no way of getting out.”
Whitworth lunged at Mr Ponniah with one hand and used his other arm to block the shop worker’s path.

Miss Jacobs added: “Understandably Mr Ponniah was terrified and genuinely believed he was going to be stabbed.

“He came forward again and Mr Ponniah took the opportunity to grab the male’s wrists preventing him from being able to stab him.

“There was a good deal of pushing and pulling between them causing them to bang into shelves and knock over bottles of alcohol before they fell to the floor.

“Fortunately, Mr Ponniah was able to keep a tight hold of his wrists.”

Whitworth scrambled to his feet and ran outside but was arrested by officers who came out of a neighbourhood police station opposite the shop.

Describing the impact the attempted robbery had on Mr Ponniah, Miss Jacobs added: “He simply states the incident has left him very frightened and scared to help out any more.”

Whitworth, of Arkley Crescent, West View, Hartlepool, admitted attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.

He told police he had been drunk and had had a row with his girlfriend.

He said he was “disgraced” at what he had done and asked police to tell the victim it was not personal.

Whitworth will be sentenced later and is remanded in custody.