COURAGEOUS staff at the prestigious County Stores in the centre of Taunton confronted a knifeman in a shocking incident which left one worker with a broken arm.

And in a bizarre twist the company's petrol station was attacked for the fourth time in two years on the same day.

Two men entered the store, Taun-ton's 'Fortnum & Mason', in North Street last Thursday, went upstairs to reception and asked to speak to a member of staff.

Suspicions were aroused as the men were dressed heavily for warm weather and wearing gloves. One was carrying a rucksack.

As they left the store employees alerted town centre security staff who made their way to the premises.

Moments later the men returned to the shop's first floor and asked for a different person.

Owner Hugh Duder, 61, and store tracker Mark Jeffery, 33, confronted the men and shut a door to prevent one of them from escaping.

It was at this point that they noticed the man was concealing a knife in his pocket.

Mr Duder told the County Gazette: "I followed the man and slammed the door shut, cornering him.

"Mr Jeffery saw the six-inch knife and managed to pull it from his pocket.

"I thought I must get them out of the building. I had my staff and customers to protect.

"Mr Jeffery was very brave in taking the knife off him."

The intruder then managed to make his way down the stairs to the bottom floor of the shop, where on hearing calls of 'stop him' 25-year-old worker Omar Nahid, on his first shift in the shop, tripped him over and held him to the ground in a rugby tackle.

The man then made off towards Middle Street, leaving Mr Nahid with a broken arm.

A man from Bristol was arrested on suspicion of robbery and affray, and a second man, also from Bristol, app-eared at Taunton Deane Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday), where he was given a conditional discharge for possession of a knife.

n The County Stores' Shell petrol station in Curry Rivel was also targeted by thieves in a separate incident in the early hours of the same day.

Just after 2am neighbours reported hearing a loud bang as the doors of the shop were forced open.

Cigarettes and alcohol were stolen, and there were reports of a Transit van leaving the scene.

Mr Duder told the County Gazette the petrol station had been ram-raided last November and had been vandalised over the past two years.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.