A SHOPKEEPER turned the tables on a masked, armed raider by chasing him off.

The attacker demanded money from the till at Noaman's Store, in Brook Terrace, Darlington, but left emptyhanded.

Owner Alaa Noaman said he acted instinctively to protect his children and livelihood, even though the robber was carrying a weapon, thought to be a large knife.

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The incident happened between 7.30pm and 8pm last Thursday.

The male intruder entered the store and demanded money from a woman who was working behind the counter.

She shouted for help from Mr Noaman, who was working a few metres away.

Mr Noaman said: "I ran out straight away. The first thing I picked up was the stick which I use to pull the shutters down.

"I stood by the counter and felt he was going to attack me, so I had to act. As soon as he saw me, he was scared offand did a runner.

"I rushed to the door, but he was so fast that he ran off towards the Denes area."

Mr Noaman called the police, who inspected CCTV footage covering a number of areas in and around the shop.

Mr Noaman added: "It was just my instinctive reaction to protect my property and my kids. I wasn't scared at all - when you've got kids, you have got to protect them."

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the attempted robbery or people who saw the man.

Detective Constable Angela Makepeace, of Darlington CID, confirmed the attacker was thought to have been brandishing a weapon.

She said: "Staff were put in fear of their safety. Fortunately, no one was attacked because the shop owner chased him out of the store. However, it is something that could have an effect on him or his staff."

Witnesses are asked to contact Detective Constable Iain Wise on 01325-742071 or 034560-60-365, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.