A shopkeeper who was savagely beaten inside his Leeds off licence believes he was the victim of a premeditated attack.
Bhavesh Patel was battered in a daylight incident by two men who went into Beeston Wine Stores, on Beeston Road, claiming to want to buy bottles of alcohol.
As he tried to escape from behind the shop counter the pair – who had a look-out keeping watch outside – dragged him back and set about him again.
All three eventually ran off empty-handed.
The incident has been described by police as an attempted robbery.
But father-of-two Mr Patel, 43, is convinced the men had been in the shop a fortnight earlier in a “spying” mission – and does not believe they intended to steal from him.
“They never asked for money, they just wanted to attack me,” he said.
“It was terrifying.”
Mr Patel, who has run the shop with his wife, Padmini, 45, for nine years, was alone inside at the time of the incident, at about 12.05pm on Monday, February 3.
CCTV footage shows how one man stood outside the store while two others spent several minutes inside and waited for another customer to leave.
Mr Patel said: “They were asking for bottles of Smirnoff and Courvoisier, but I said I didn’t have them.
“They were standing in front of me, then suddenly they just came for me.”
The pair launched themselves across the counter, beating Mr Patel about the head.
He struggled free but they then pulled him back behind the counter in a second assault.
All three then left the scene.
The attack left Mr Patel with severe bruising to his face. He required x-rays to establish there had been no further damage.
Mrs Patel said she had been left “distraught” by the incident – but said the couple had been encouraged by customers’ support.
“My husband would never hurt anybody, would never even raise his voice to anybody. Why would they do this?” she said.
“Our customers have been amazing – they have given us cards and flowers. But these people need to be caught and put in prison.”
Police are continuing to appeal for information after arresting two men who have been released on bail pending further enquiries.
Mr and Mrs Patel are offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
Call Detective Constable Phil Maher at Holbeck Police Station via 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.