The boss of an Edinburgh jewellery store told today of the moment armed robbers smashed display cabinets and stole a fortune in gem studded jewellery and designer watches.
Stephen Paterson said three men – wearing balaclavas and boiler suits – took rings, necklaces and Patek Phillippe timepieces from Hamilton & Inches’ George Street store with a cost price of nearly £580,000.
I saw three balaclava’d men with dark, what-seemed-to-be padded, boiler suits, with gloves and axes and machetes.”Stephen Paterson
The jury was shown video of the terrifying raid in which the trio, armed with machetes and axes ordering staff to lie on the floor before smashing their way through armoured glass display cabinets to grab fistfuls of valuables.
Mr Paterson, 53, who is chief executive of the company, said two customers had just left the shop when the axe-wielding raiders ran in through the front door at around 11.30am on June 6.
He told a jury at the High Court in Livingston that the wholesale value of one necklace stolen from the window display was £325000.
But he admitted that, given the low stock/high margin nature of the jewellery business, retail values would be far higher.
He said he had just finished a phone call in his office at the front of the building when he heard “some sort of crashing and shouting”.
He told the jury: “At first I thought somebody had maybe crashed a car outside close to the building.
“I opened the door and saw my colleague Stuart McDowell with his hands up being ushered to the floor.
“I saw three balaclava’d men with dark, what-seemed-to-be padded, boiler suits, with gloves and axes and machetes.
“I was extremely angry that people would come in and do this to our premises and also to my staff.”
When one of the raiders ordered him to open his office to gain access to a “very, very high value” window display Mr Paterson said he refused at first, believing he could “take him on”.
He said it was only after a second man brandishing a machete came up to him and shouted: “Open the f***ing door!” that he did so.
The robber then emptied the window of high-value, gem-set jewellery, swiping everything into a black rucksack.
Another man used an axe to smash his way into eight display cabinets containing highly collectable and valuable Patek Phillippe watches while a third hammered his way through armour-plated glass to steal jewellery from a floor standing cabinet.
At one point one of the men pushed 67-year-old shop worker Margaret Mclennan to the floor, causing her to injure her head on a display cabinet.
Mr Paterson said he heard two of the men speak during the 90 second robbery, one of them shouting “Time, time” before the raiders all ran out and got into a white BMW before driving off at speed.
He said the men both had Lancashire or Manchester accents.
Michael Hood, 32, from Edinburgh, denies assault and robbery, reset, possession of cannabis and a series of motoring offences.
He is accused of acting with others whose identities are not known to the prosecution with faces partially masked, brandishing weapons at staff in Hamilton & Inches staff, breaking open display cabinets containing watches and jewellery with machete, axe and sledgehammer or similar implements
He also denies driving a stolen white BMW bearing false number plates from George Street to Glouchester Lane, Edinburgh on the day of the raid with no licence or insurance and failing to comply with a No Entry sign.
He further denies resetting a second car with false number plates in Glouchester Lane and elsewhere in Edinburgh.
Kurtis Beech, 28, of Salford, Manchester, denies driving two stolen cars, also bearing false number plates, from Manchester to Edinburgh with no licence or insurance in the days preceding the robbery.
The trial, before Lord Glennie, continues.