A hero Aberdeen shop worker has told how he chased down and tackled a knife-wielding would-be raider who threatened to kill him.
Muja Hid Ali had been the only employee within the News and Chews newsagent on Bridge Street in Aberdeen when thug Dechlan Whyte walked in at 11.10pm.
The 21-year-old knifeman waited until other customers had left before pulling out the weapon and threatening to kill Mr Ali, 28, if he did not hand over cash.
However, the bumbling would-be robber got spooked by a noise outside and legged it, before the have-a-go-hero shop assistant gave chase and restrained him with the help of a bouncer from the Underground Klub next door.
Mr Ali, who had only just moved to Aberdeen from London and started working at the store around two weeks earlier, said: “The guy came with the knife. He was just going through to buy something else like a usual customer.
“I observed something suspicious, he was looking at me in an aggressive way.
“He was watching the cameras as well. Then he came round the corner where there was no camera and he asked me with the knife ‘give me money otherwise I will kill you’.
“I was shocked. People steal things and then they run away, but with the knife and threats that they will kill me? That’s the first time in my life.
“I told him ‘calm down, nothing to worry about, whatever you want, let me know and I will help you’.
“He said ‘no, give me money otherwise I will kill you’, and pointed the knife at me.
“I was in fear for my life, definitely.
“I didn’t have anywhere to run away. I tried to defend myself. I said ‘look, I’m a worker here, just calm down and take the money’.”
But after being startled by a noise outside, Whyte fled, however Mr Ali said he took the threats “personally” and gave chase.
He said: “He tried to escape, and I followed him.
“He threatened me. I was in aggressive mode and tried to defend myself.
“I followed him outside on the road, I pushed him on the floor and then I beat him.
“He was running and suddenly I pushed him and jumped on him and a few punches.
“Once you have your life threatened, then you become brave. You have to be brave and defend yourself.
“In the moment I was brave. I took it personally. You have to defend and you have to save yourself.
“I knew if he ran away he would come back, so you have to give them a lesson, no-one can mess around here.
“This 10 minutes was the most difficult time in my life. I was just fighting for my life.”
As Mr Ali sat on top of Whyte, while stunned bystanders looked on, a bouncer at a nearby nightclub came to his aid.
Mr Ali said: “When I was outside and on top of him the bouncer knew that something happened and they came to help me.
“They helped me and called the police.”
The hero shop assistant said Whyte, who is remanded in prison pending sentencing later this month, was in the right place, but added people struggling financially shoudn’t resort to crime.
He said: “I’m happy to see him where he is right now. He should be in jail.
“These kind of people should have a lesson.
“I would say personally, I know these are hard times for everyone, but you have to do something good. Choose a good way.
“The guy is young as well, he ruined his life.
“You don’t need to steal. Mostly people come here to steal I say ‘ask me and I will help you from my own pocket, you don’t need to do these kind of things, you will go to jail and ruin your life’.
“Just be a good citizen, you don’t have to hurt anyone.”
And Mr Ali said he struggled to cope with what had happened for a number of weeks.
He said: “I’ve worked here around six months. I’d just joined around that time. The place was new to me, the people were new to me.
“I was trying to get to know people and how they behave, and this happened.
“People are really nice and helped me a lot after this. It was a nightmare. For a few weeks I was in shock. I was scared. If he is free it’s a threat for me again.”
Mr Ali’s boss, shop owner Mohammad Abdullah said: “He did a good job. He’s a hero.”
Whyte appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court via a video link from prison yesterday and pled guilty to a number of charges.
He admitted attempting to rob Mr Ali on November 2 by brandishing a knife at him, demanding money and making threats.
He also admitted possession of a knife and failing to appear at court on a previous occasion.
Fiscal depute Colin Neilson told the court: “At around 11.10pm the accused entered the store. Mr Ali asked the accused if he required any help. The accused replied that he was ‘just looking’.
“Mr Ali served a number of customers while the accused remained in the store.
“Once those customers had left, the accused approached Mr Ali who was standing behind the till area.
“The accused shouted ‘I’ll hurt you if you don’t give me cash, I’ll kill you’.
“The accused then lifted his jacket and took out a black-handled knife from the waistband of his trousers.
“He brandished the knife at Mr Ali and pointed it at his chest area. Mr Ali asked the accused to calm down.
“The accused continued to point the knife towards Mr Ali. The accused was startled by a noise outside the store and fled. He left he store and turned right onto Bridge Street.
“Mr Ali ran after the accused and caught up with him. Mr Ali and the accused struggled with each other.
“A door steward, watching nearby, helped Mr Ali restrain the accused.
“The door steward called the police.
“Upon hearing the sirens from approaching police vehicles the accused stated ‘yeah, I robbed the shop, I’m guilty’.”
Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentence on Whyte, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, until later this month and remanded him in custody.
Defence solicitor Gail Goodfellow reserved mitigation until the sentencing hearing.