Police took heist accused ‘out for a drive’

Hamilton and Inches
Hamilton and Inches
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DETECTIVES probing a jewellery heist took the main suspect “out for a drive” after he had been charged with the crime and locked up in a police cell, a jury heard on Monday.

The officers – led by Detective Inspector Carol Craig – took Michael Hood to a Homebase car park in a police car.

They then had an “off the book” chat with him about who might be responsible for the high-profile armed robbery at Hamilton & Inches in George Street.

Hood’s lawyer was not present during the outing and no notes of the interview were taken, the High Court at Livingston was told.

DC Graham McIlwraith admitted that the accused’s solicitor – who had just left St Leonard’s Police Station – had not been contacted.

He also agreed that the Hood was officially in police custody at the time of the outing.

He told the jury: “He was perfectly at liberty not to come with us. He was asked, and three officers took him for a run in the car.”

DC McIlwraith and DC Andrew Corr took part in a search of Hood’s flat in Pilton following the robbery.

They claimed they had overheard the suspect tell two people police were there looking for “ski masks and balaclavas”, even though the warrant read out to him only referred to “clothing”.

Both gave evidence that they had made a “retrospective note” of allegedly incriminating comments later because they had been too busy at the time.

The jury learned on Monday that the police investigation had failed to identify any of the three raiders wearing boiler suits and balaclavas who carried out the smash and grab raid in broad daylight last June.

The robbers, armed with machetes, axes and sledgehammers, took just 90 seconds to escape with a haul of designer watches and diamond and gem-encrusted jewellery with a wholesale value of £580,000

The only item recovered from the was a single ring, which the robbers dropped as they changed getaway car in the New Town, the jury heard.

Hood, 32, denies assault and robbery, reset, possession of cannabis and a series of motoring offences involving two stolen cars. He’s lodged a special defence of alibi.

The main charge alleges he acted with others with faces partially masked, brandished weapons at staff in Hamilton & Inches, and broke open display cabinets containing watches and jewellery using machetes, axes and sledgehammers or similar implements

Co-accused Kurtis Beech, 29, denies motoring offences connected with driving two stolen cars from Manchester to Edinburgh in the days before the robbery.

The trial, before Lord Glennie, continues