'Muscular' gunman robbed fish and chip shop

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The Independent Online

Police were today probing an armed robbery at a fish and chip shop carried out by a man with a similar description to fugitive Raoul Moat.

Northumbria Police said a 6ft tall white man aged about 35 with a "muscular build" and "short sandy-coloured hair" brandished a gun last night in the shop near Blyth - around 10 miles north of Newcastle - before escaping with some cash.

A huge hunt is currently under way for Newcastle-based suspected gunman Moat, whose official description is 6ft 3ins, white, with a large muscular build and very short or shaven blond hair.

He has been wanted since allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and killing her boyfriend Chris Brown on Saturday, and a police officer was shot and wounded the next day.

Northumbria Police - which is not linking last night's raid to the hunt for Moat - said of the robbery: "Inquiries are at a very early stage - we don't know who the offender is."

The raid took place at 10.50pm in Astley Road, Seaton Delaval, near Blyth on the north east coast.

Police said: "A man with what's believed to be a gun entered the shop and demanded cash. An amount of cash was handed over, and the man left on foot.

"Two members of staff were left shocked but otherwise unhurt There were no customers in the shop at the time."

The suspect was clean shaven, wearing jeans and a dark coloured T shirt. He left on foot.

"Inquiries are ongoing, utilising forensic inquiries to identify the person responsible," Northumbria Police said.

No vehicle was seen at the scene of the robbery, police added, and no weapon has been recovered.

Officers are appealing for witnesses.

One eyewitness said he thought he had come face to face with the chip shop robber.

Local resident Chris Biggs, 52, said he saw a "well-built guy" get into a dark saloon car and drive off late last night.

"He was calm as could be," Mr Biggs said.

"He got into his car and reversed back out of the street and headed towards Blyth."

Mr Biggs, a bus driver, said he had been looking out of the window of his home at about 11pm last night after hearing a police helicopter overhead.

"He was a well-built guy but I didn't really get a good look because I only saw him from over my wall under the dim street light," he said.

"He looked like he was carrying something in his hand - a fish and chip supper I assumed - as he went to his car.

"He was so calm and that's why I didn't think anything of it.

"It wasn't until my wife said this morning that there had been an armed robbery at the chip shop that I thought anything of it."

Another witness described seeing armed police at the chip shop.

Edward Newton, 64, who lives above the newsagent he runs opposite the takeaway, said he also saw the chip shop owner talking to police last night.

"I was watching the 11pm news with my wife Pearl when I heard the sirens," Mr Newton said.

"When the armed police arrived, we wondered if it had anything to with what we had been watching on the television.

"There was about half a dozen police cars and they had taped off the area."

Mr Newton added: "It just brings it home how vulnerable we all are and how the police are putting themselves on the line in a situation like this."

Anyone who saw anything should call Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.