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Waterloo off licence held up by masked gunman

POLICE are studying CCTV footage in a bid to catch an armed robber who held up an off licence.

Officers were called to Oxford Food and Wines, on Oxford Road, Waterloo at around 7.30pm on Sunday.

A man had entered the store at around 7.20pm, wearing dark clothing and a woollen hat with a scarf pulled up over his face.

After waiting for all other customers to leave the shop and having initially remarked to staff about the cold weather, he then produced a gun from a blue bag and demanded cigarettes and cash from the till.

Shop worker Kotharshan Kaneshamoorthy, was in the flat above the store at the time of the robbery.

He only knew about it when shop owner Ratheeswararanja Dharmasena raised the alarm downstairs.

Mr Kaneshamoorthy said: “My boss was on his own downstairs when the man came in. He had his face covered over and said how cold it was outside.

“But when he came to the counter he got out a gun and shouted that he wanted money and cigarettes.

“As he came around the counter my boss sounded the alarm which alerted everybody upstairs.

“We all came down, but the man had run off.

“My boss is very shaken up, as you would expect.

“He has owned the store for two years now and we have never had any kind of trouble like this.

“To be confronted by a gun in your own shop, it is very frightening.”

Ratheeswararanja’s wife, Basugi, said that her husband was very upset about the raid.

She said: “It is a family run business, and we were all shaken.

“Money earned though hard work by anyone should not go away to ungrateful thugs like this.”

The couple said that the gunman, who escaped with just £100 in cash, had been in the shop before and that a white van, believed to be a Citroen Berlingo, parked outside the shop could hold the key to finding him.

She said: “We believe the offender is a local in the area and possibly a regular customer. The van had been parked on the street outside the shop for around 40 minutes and the van driver had come into the shop two or three times.

“The driver may be a possible key witness as he had left the street and turned the same direction as the offender when he fled with the money.”

Police are now studying the surveillance tapes and appealing for witnesses. Det Sgt Tony O'Brien, of Sefton CID, said: “This was an extremely serious ordeal for the staff to go through.

“I would like to reassure residents that this type of incident happens rarely in this area and we are fully committed to identifying the offenders and bringing them to justice.

“I would urge anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious behaviour in the area around the time of the incident or has any information that may assist our investigation to contact us.”

Anyone with any information on the robbery should call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 2263.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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