Armed robbers fled wrong way after £1.3m heist

How the events unfolded.

How the events unfolded.

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DETECTIVES hunting an armed gang have pieced together the getaway route from the minutes after the robbers escaped with up to £1.3 million of jewellery from a George Street store.

The gang sped the wrong way down a one-way street in the BMW to reach a second “dark-coloured” vehicle parked in Gloucester Lane.

Police are now appealing for witnesses who saw this unidentified car after it vanished from view only a few minutes’ walk from the Hamilton & Inches jewellers raided on Friday.

Detectives believe the robbers may have swapped cars in Gloucester Lane as it has no CCTV coverage.

At around 11.30am, three balaclava-clad men held up the jewellers with machetes, axes and hammers while a fourth person waited in the BMW. The car went east along George Street, turned into Frederick Street then down Howe Street before taking a left into Heriot Row and into Gloucester Lane.

Detective Inspector Carol Craig said: “Witnesses saw the car driving erratically on Howe Street. They’ve gone the wrong way down the one-way street on Gloucester Lane, taking the risk of crashing into any oncoming cars. That may have been deliberate, or may demonstrate a lack of local knowledge.

“At least three people left the BMW and it may have been four. They got into a medium-sized or large dark-coloured vehicle in Gloucester Lane which was lost to sight at the end of the road.”

Officers are keeping an “open mind” over whether a fifth suspect was in the waiting car, or if it was unoccupied.

The BMW was reportedly stolen in Liverpool, but detectives declined to comment on speculation the gang may come from either Manchester or Liverpool. Gang members jailed for stealing jewellery worth £730,000 from the Rox store in George Street last January were from Manchester.

DI Craig said: “The BMW has been recovered and forensic work is ongoing. Between £1m and £1.3m was stolen but the store is still putting together a full inventory. The watches stolen have serial numbers, which would make them difficult to sell. It’s possible they may try to move them abroad.”

A Hamilton & Inches spokeswoman said: “Our staff pulled together over the weekend and we’re back open for business. We were shaken up, but didn’t want anyone to keep us down.”