Cross-border manhunt after robber attacks employee at Castlederg premises

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A violent would-be robber who viciously assaulted a shop worker in Castlederg yesterday must be caught and put behind bars as soon as possible, the area’s police chief has warned.

PSNI Chief Inspector Andy Lemon, who is in charge of policing in the Strabane district, appealed for help from the public in apprehending the assailant to ensure he does not get a chance to strike again.

Police on both sides of the Tyrone/Donegal border are hunting for the man in his 20s, who attacked the male employee at the Bureau de Change in the Diamond when he refused to hand over cash on Monday afternoon.

A struggle ensued during which the worker was struck in the face and sustained two puncture wounds to his back which required ten stitches.

CI Lemon, who is leading the investigation, said: “Between 2 and 2.15pm on January 6 a male described as being in his early 20s, about 5’10” in height, with short black hair, wearing a beige round-necked jumper, entered the Bureau de Change in the Diamond area of Castlederg and demanded that the person working there fill a red bag with money.

“When the person refused, he was then attacked. He was struck on the face and also received two puncture wounds to his back which resulted in him requiring ten stitches, so it was quite a vicious assault.

“The suspect didn’t get any money and ran out to a blue Nissan Micra, registration number FJZ 9609, which was parked adjacent to a laundrette in the Diamond. This was used to make good his escape and in doing so, he drove the wrong way around the Diamond and then overtook a silver Golf at the rear of the police station on its way up the Lurganboy Road.”

The Micra car was located on the other side of the border by the Gardai, parked adjacent to the AIB bank in Lifford at 3.40pm. There was no damage to the vehicle and the keys were missing.

CI Lemon said a house search was carried out and it’s believed the vehicle was registered under a false name.

“We believe other individuals had used this vehicle so we are appealing for anyone who may know the whereabouts of the owner or who may have seen it in the Diamond area of Castlederg on Monday afternoon, or in Lifford when it was dropped off, to contact either ourselves or An Garda Siochana.”

CI Lemon said the PSNI and Gardai were checking CCTV footage in Castlederg and Lifford as part of the cross-border investigation.

The local police chief said the car was reportedly seen being driven around Castlederg prior to the attempted robbery.

The puncture wounds sustained by the money exchange employee during the attack suggested a weapon was used.

CI Lemon said the incident was out of the norm for Castlederg.

“The community is very upset and we would be really keen to get this person caught and put away for what was a violent assault. There is the potential that if they will do this, they would do it again.”