Betting shop workers fear working alone since murder of Andrew Iacovou in Morden

Wimbledon Guardian: Flowers at Ladbrokes Morden at the time of the murder Flowers at Ladbrokes Morden at the time of the murder

Betting shop employees have spoken of their fears at working alone after the brutal murder of Andrew Iacovou.

As his killer is set to languish behind bars for a minimum of 26 years, people who work just yards away from where the dad-of-two was bludgeoned to death by a punter have spoken out how unsafe they feel while on duty alone.

One employee of a betting shop, who did not wish to be named, said she was shocked and unnerved when she learnt of the murder.

She said: “I think it is diabolical that we have to work on our own. There has been a couple of times when I have had to call the police.

“People wouldn't leave and were being threatening and intimidating when I was on my own.

“In a job like this it is a worry that you will get robbed.”

Paddy Power assistant manager Mike Bromley, however, said he was supported by the company and felt fine to work on his own.

Mr Bromley, who works in the London Road branch, said he recognised homeless killer Shafique Ahmad Aarij from his mugshot.

He said: “The guy used to come here frequently – I recognised him in the picture.

“He had shaved his hair and he had disguised himself by shaving his moustache. He went into Stan James as well. I couldn't believe it.

“It could have been anyone – he was desperate for money that’s all.”

Southwark Crown Court heard on Monday how homeless gambling addict Aarij, 22, went to the Aberconway Road branch of Ladbrokes with the intention of robbing it just before 8.30am on May 25 last year.

Once inside he used a technique he practised the previous evening to lure Mr Iacovou, 55, out from the secure area behind the counter.

Once Mr Iacovou, of Church Hill Road, North Cheam, opened the door to the staff area Aarij burst in and attacked him, demanding money.

When Mr Iacovou refused to hand over the cash, Aarij repeatedly hit him over the head with a claw hammer.

Despite pressing the panic alarm, Mr Iacovou was left to die behind the counter in the shop to be found by a customer almost two hours later.

Ladbrokes said the alarm triggered a screen in a central security office to show live footage from the store, but the angle of the camera meant the worker could see nothing amiss.

Mr Bromley criticised the safety of Ladbrokes, saying that they could be “quite lax”, whereas Paddy Power had a panic button that works and is tested regularly by staff members.

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