A TRAINEE manager of a Centra supermarket has described how armed raiders held a gun to his head and two knives to his neck and back.
But the man's quick thinking helped to ensure gardai were alerted to the robbery of the store on Tower Road, Clondalkin, west Dublin.
All three of the gang members were later arrested after a street chase.
The three raiders entered the Centra shop at about 7.45am when Ali Raza was alone on the premises.
He described how they did not immediately see him because of where he was standing in the store and he attempted to escape via the back door but one of the gang spotted him.
They then began screaming at him to open the safe, while holding the gun to the side of his head and then pushing the knives into him.
Mr Raza, who is originally from Pakistan, said he feared for his life in the ordeal.
"I was frightened. I thought they wanted to kill me," he said.
But despite his terror, he remained calm and pretended to help the thieves get what they wanted.
However, he had spotted a friend outside the shop who had seen what was happening and he knew it would not be long before gardai were called.
The gang was in the shop for more than half an hour while they helped themselves to €10,000 worth of cigarettes and a quantity of cash.
Mr Raza then encouraged the gang to use one of two exits from the shop.
He then quickly told the gardai which way the group were escaping.
Luckily, a patrol car was in the area and three uniformed gardai – one female and two male – gave chase to the escaping robbers on foot.
All three male suspects, who are all aged in their 20s, were arrested a short distance from the Centra store.
They are being held at Clondalkin garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.
An imitation firearm, two knives as well as all of the stolen cash and cigarettes were recovered.
Investigating gardai said a car believed to have been stolen earlier in the Lucan area and used in the incident was also found.
A garda spokesman said: "There was no reported injures and the investigation is ongoing."
Mr Raza was shaken by the incident but remained at the shop to finish his shift.
"It is my job," he said, adding that his boss had bought him a bottle of champagne for the brave way in which he coped with the armed raid.