Threatened at knife-point

AN ARMIDALE woman has recounted the chilling moments she was held at knifepoint by three hooded men in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Sharnelle Sippel, 21, says she no longer feels safe since she was brutally attacked as she arrived at work.

The Armidale McDonald’s employee was waiting to be let into the restaurant to start her 5am shift when the armed robbers struck.

“I drove into the car park and parked pretty much directly beside the side entrance and then I popped out of the car and walked to the door,” she said.

“I heard scuffing of feet running down the pavement towards me ... I turned and looked as I thought it might be someone running late and then noticed they had balaclavas on and were all hooded up.

“I felt hopeless and I didn’t know what to do.

“I started screaming and yelling, I just didn’t believe this was happening.

“The first one ... pulled the keys out of my right pocket and tried to unlock the door ... and the other one grabbed me from behind and held a knife to my neck while the other was looking out.

“They kept saying (to the people inside) ‘open the door or we’re going to kill her’.”

After realising none of the keys fit, an alarm went off nearby, startling the offenders who fled the scene in Ms Sippel’s car.

The attack, which lasted about three or four minutes, felt like “forever”, Ms Sippel said.

Once inside the premises, the talented dirt bike rider broke down.

“I just started crying and screaming and went into shock,” she said.

“I was unsure if they were still around or what they would do.”

So traumatised by the ordeal, Ms Sippel said she was unsure if she would ever return to work.

She also vowed to sell her beloved late-model Holden Commodore, which was found six hours later at the University of New England and is undergoing forensic examination.

“I’m scared ... I don’t feel safe,” she said.

“I’ll be 22 in a few weeks’ time  and I’m sleeping with the light on.”

Police said yesterday they were making further inquiries and reviewing CCTV footage.

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