A WOMAN today relived the terrifying moment she came face to face with a gunman.
And Sonia Bennett believes the terror she felt is ample proof that fake guns should be banned.
She has backed a plea by Huddersfield police chief John Holt to stop the sale of imitation weapons.
Miss Bennett, 38, of Dalton, experienced at first hand just how frightening it can be to be confronted with an armed criminal. She was robbed by two teenagers who held up the petrol station in Huddersfield where she was working.
One of the masked youths pointed a pistol at her and Miss Bennett said: "I just thought: `Oh my God'.
"I just froze. I had never seen a gun before, any type of gun, and it never occurred to me if it was real or fake. All I could see was a big light-coloured pistol.
"The gunman shouted: `Give us the money' and said he did not want to hurt me. I was frightened to death. I just stood aside and let them get the cash."
Police later arrested two 17-year-old Huddersfield youths and discovered that the weapon was a cigarette lighter, made to look like a gun.
Both robbers were sent to a young offenders' institution.
Miss Bennett, who still works as a petrol station attendant, said: "I applaud the police in their campaign to stop fake guns.
"It was the most frightening moment of my life. No-one can tell if a gun pointed at you is fake or not. There seems to be too much crime where guns are involved, be they real or fake."
Chief Supt Holt made his call for a ban on the fakes earlier this month after West Yorkshire Police figures showed the scale of the firearms problem in Huddersfield.
The town has had more incidents of gun crime than any other area of the county so far this year, but Chief Supt Holt said the bulk of the crimes involved fake weapons.
He said: "There is not enough legislation to combat them. You can go out of your office in Huddersfield and buy an imitation firearm in 10 minutes."
Local MPs have promised to look at ways of bringing in new restrictions.
Home Secretary David Blunkett is expected to include new legislation covering replica weapons in his promised bill on anti-social behaviour.
It would become an offence to carry replica weapons in the street.
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