A HEROIC pharmacist has spoken of the terrifying moment he was threatened at knifepoint.
Grant Irlam said he can still hear the sound of the large kitchen knife being drawn when he thinks back to the terrifying armed raid at Lloyds Pharmacy in Buckley.
On Friday his attacker Mark Williams, 39, of Alyn Road in Buckley – a familiar face to staff at the store – was jailed for four years and eight months at Mold Crown Court.
Mr Irlam, the manager at the Buckley chemist, said he felt sorry for Williams, 39, who was in a “completely desperate state” during the robbery as he demanded drugs from the store on Christmas Eve.
Williams said he wanted cocaine and heroin but was told they had none.
Mr Irlam said when Williams brandished the knife he knew his life was in danger, but his first thought was to keep him calm and “keep the attack secret” from other staff members on the shop floor.
Speaking to the Leader about the ordeal, Mr Irlam said: “When he first came in there wasn’t anything unusual.
“I had known him for about three to four years. He asked me for a quick word,which wasn’t unusual, and we went in a consultation room.
“We sat down and he said ‘I’m sorry to have to do this’ and then he pulled a knife out. I was completely in shock.
“I was aware my life was in danger but my focus really was keeping him as calm as possible – partly because I knew him and I could see he was in a desperate state.
He was a big guy, I didn’t want to tackle him physically and put my own life at risk. I would have acted different if I didn’t know him.”
Mr Irlam convinced Williams, who was apologetic for his actions throughout, that he needed to see a doctor.
He added: “It was a traumatic experience for everyone involved.
“I tried to keep it a secret from the girls working in the shop at first.
“But when I went to call the doctor he followed me in to the back of the store and that was when the alarm bells started ringing for the girls. They all moved away quick.”
Mr Irlam eventually convinced Williams, who had stolen drugs from the store, to go and see a doctor and even began to walk him there himself.
Williams realised he would be arrested and “walked off calmly” in another direction.
Mr Irlam said: “I really didn’t want to come back to work after Christmas and I didn’t feel comfortable going back into the consultation area.
“But I thought of it being like falling off a bike – the longer you leave it to get back on the harder it becomes.”
He added: “The strongest memory of it all is him drawing a knife.
“When I think about it too much I can still hear the knife coming out.
“He was in complete desperation and I could see he was in a really bad way.
“He was apologetic at the start and apologetic at the end – I felt sorry for him.”
He feared things could have been a lot worse if Williams’ original demands of putting the shutters down had happened.
“We would have all been in here with him and that would have been a scary thing.”
Mr Irlam added: “I’m just grateful he pleaded guilty and I didn’t have to relive it all again in court.”