ARMED robbers slashed a man with a knife and made off with more than £3,000 worth of cigarettes and booze.

A gang of four men with hoods covering their faces burst into the Premier store on Church Lane, Colchester.

Shop worker Kumarasamy Pathmaruban was on duty at the time but was in a backroom while a friend minded the shop.

After heading into the store through the front door, one of the raiders stabbed his friend on the arm.

When he heard the commotion Mr Pathmaruban returned to the shop floor and one of the gang members held the blade to his throat and demanded he give them cash.

Mr Pathmaruban said: “My friend has come down from London and I was only in the back for a little while.

“Three of them came in and I think there was another one waiting outside.

“They stabbed him in the arm and he fell down onto the floor.

“I heard a loud noise and came back out because I didn’t know what was going on.

“Then they put the knife to my throat and kept saying ‘give me money’.

“I kept telling them I was sorry but most of the money had been taken to the bank a few hours ago.

“But they didn’t believe me and punched me in the head while the knife was up near my throat.”

Two of the robbers went behind the counter and stole dozens of packets of cigarettes and bottles of spirits – mainly vodka - leaving the shop low on stock the next morning.

The man who was stabbed was taken to Colchester General Hospital for treatment but his injuries are not thought to be serious.

Mr Pathmaruban, 41, has worked at the Lexden store for three years and said he has never experienced anything similar before and was worried about the violent nature of the robbery.

He said: “I have had minor things but nothing like this.

“Hours later and I was still shaking.

“It was horrible - a very bad situation to be in.

“It all seemed to happen in a blur and they were in and out so quickly.

“I always thought this was such a nice area.

“Thankfully, my friend is going to be ok.

“He was only here for a short time and will be going back home soon.”

Despite the frightening ordeal, Mr Pathmaruban opened the shop as usual the next day.

He said: “I was up all night with him at the hospital and was back at the shop at 6am to open it back up again.

“I was trying not to touch anything in the area where my friend fell down because the police are coming back to do more investigations.”

The incident happened just before 9pm on Thursday and the police and the ambulance service attended the scene within minutes.

The gang fled towards Rusdale Way.

Witnesses or anyone with information about the incident are asked to call Colchester CID on 101, quoting reference 42/5278/18.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at