PATHETIC!

A shopkeeper is furious after a yob who threw a lit firework into the family store was handed an £80 fine - terrified family members feared for their lives when the teenager threw an explosive into the M&V Grocery Off Licence on Gloucester Street, Atherton.

Bottles of flammable spirits were struck by the Wizard Thunderbolt firework before it bounced to the floor and gave off two explosive charges while owner Bharat Patel, 44, attempted to put it out with his foot.

He was thrown backwards by the blast as he attempted to smother the explosion, but managed to escape without serious burns after the incident on November 8.

Wife Lisa Patel, 44, says the ordeal left her in shock for hours and left her family feeling terrorised.

The teenage thug, who can't be named for legal reasons, threw the firework and fled, but was picked up by police soon after and given a fixed penalty fine of just 80, to the disgust of the traumatised Mrs Patel.

She said: "We couldn't sleep at all that night and I was shaking for hours afterwards.

"The shop was filled with smoke and it was very frightening. I was sitting behind the counter, near to the living room, and it looked like he was aiming to throw it into our house."

Mr Patel who has owned the business for 19 years was behind the counter at the time.

He said: "It scared us to death. We were left feeling frightened and nervous. Now each time the shop door is opened it makes us jumpy wondering what will happen next.

"If the spirits had caught fire it could have been much worse.

"The police were very clever and they caught the culprit quickly but their hands are tied – they could only give a fine, and next time a caution, then maybe the third time, arrest him.

"Why is the punishment so pathetic for an arson attack which could have burned three people to death?

"We are honest, hard-working people but will be living on the edge for some time when criminals can attack us for a fine of 80."

He also questioned how the youngster, believed to be 16, was able to get hold of potentially-lethal fireworks.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: "We take seriously any misuse of fireworks.

"However, in this case it was felt that a fixed penalty notice would be appropriate due to the fact that no-one was injured by the device and no damage occurred.

"Also, the offender in question was a juvenile who immediately admitted the offence, acknowledging how foolish he had been."