Heartbreak hotel

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Premier Hotel owners Graeme Cooper and Rumeena Nizam saw their dreams shattered early on Friday, just seven months after taking over the 130-year-old pub.

Two men attacked Mr Cooper as he putting the bins out at the end of the night.

The men stole cash, set the hotel on fire and then fled the scene, leaving behind extensive damage to one of Albany’s oldest remaining pubs.

Ms Nizam said since taking over the business in October they had implemented a variety of changes including new staff, a new sports bar and the opening of the kitchen.

“Everything was just falling into place and we were thinking, ‘Excellent, we’ve hit the six-month mark and now things are rolling’,” she said.

“It was all really on track, it’s where we wanted to be,” Mr Cooper said.

“Everything’s on go mode and at midnight, just one hour and our dreams are just absolutely shattered,” Ms Nizam said.

Mr Cooper explained how it all started.

“I was taking the bins out, as we do every night after close,” he said

“I was grabbed by two guys out the back who half carried, half dragged me down the corridor to the office, made me turn off the cameras, open the safe.

“I was punched both in the face and in the ribs and they took a fair sum of money from us.

“Then I was grabbed and basically forced to watch them while they set the place on fire in front of me.”

Mr Cooper recalls how he was taunted by the offenders.

“They taunted me the whole time about it, verbally taunted me,” he said.

“Once the fire had taken hold they ran, I ran back upstairs because I knew we had rooms occupied up stairs so I got the guys out from upstairs,”

Fire services arrived around 12.45am on Friday and worked through the night to control the blaze.

Police are still searching for the men and would like to speak to the owners of a silver or dark grey van that was seen leaving the area at the time of the incident.

It has been requested that the public stay clear of the site, as the investigations are ongoing.

A crowdfunding page has been created by a member of the community to support the people who were living in the hotel and the staff who have lost their homes and incomes respectively.

To donate go to www.gofundme.com/2473h6c

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