Barnham shopkeeper speaks of terrifying robbery ordeal

DM1511185a.jpg Millbarn Furniture, Barnham, site of a robbery. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150630-113116008
DM1511185a.jpg Millbarn Furniture, Barnham, site of a robbery. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150630-113116008

A SHOPKEEPER has told of the terrifying moment her ‘life flashed before her ’ when an armed robber raided her quiet store in Barnham.

Terri Bilton, 59, had been alone in the Millbarn Secondhand Furniture Shop, in the Windmill Shopping Village, Yapton Road, when a masked man entered the store, demanding money, on Tuesday, June 23.

She told the balaclava-clad assailant she had no cash and was then struck across the face with some sharp object which left a nasty gash above her right eye.

“It was over in seconds,” Ms Bilton said. “It was like closing a door, it was that quick.

“I knew I was in danger when I saw him come into the store. People don’t usually wear a face mask.

“When he demanded money it was very frightening. My whole life flashed before me.”

After assaulting Ms Bilton the man ran out of the shop, empty-handed.

The battered and shaken shopkeeper stumbled to the phone to call the police, who rushed to the store.

“They were here in minutes,” she added. “I really can’t fault them. They were absolutely brilliant and were absolute gents.

“I’d give them 100 per cent out of 100 for their response.”

Ms Bilton described the attacker to police, saying he was black in his 30s, 5ft 10ins, of medium to heavy build, wearing all black ‘fitted’ clothing and black ‘fitted’ gloves.

Officers conducted an immediate search of the village but were unable to find him.

Ms Bilton believes her attacker may have used an exit behind the store to flee.

She said that since the attack, she had been a ‘nervous wreck’ and took a couple of days off work, returning on Thursday.

“I’ve been here for seven years and nothing like this has ever happened,” she added. “I just don’t want him to attack someone else.

“Thankfully I’m all right. But that might not be the case for someone else.”

Police are appealing for witnesses or those with information to contact them by emailing 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or calling 101, quoting serial 612 of 23/06, or calling independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.