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Jeweller David Price feared his was going to die during gun point raid at Barry Papworth's in Lymington
A JEWELLER has described the terrifying moment when a masked gunman aimed a weapon at his head while his accomplices ransacked the store.
Hampshire businessman David Price, 57, was forced to kneel down at the back of his shop and feared he was about to be shot.
His ordeal began when at least two men brandishing handguns and shouting “Get down!” burst into the store.
One of them stood over him, pointing a weapon at his head, as other members of the gang used hammers to smash their way into the display cabinets.
Mr Price said they made off with a “considerable” amount of stock, including 50 watches and five trays of earrings.
Three men targeted Barry Papworth Jewellers in St Thomas Street, Lymington.
As reported in the Daily Echo, they were caught on CCTV as they left the shop and sped off in a blue Alfa Romeo 166, which was later found abandoned in Westbeams Road, Sway.
Mr Price was alone in the store, which still bears the name of the previous owner, when the gang entered the building.
His assistant, Clare Morrell, was at home looking after her 12-year-old son, who was off school that day because of the teachers’ strike.
Mr Price said: “I heard the door open and saw two guys with handguns.
“One of them told me to lie down but I decided to kneel, thinking I’d be even more vulnerable if I was flat on the floor.
“I heard the cabinets being smashed and asked them to use my keys instead, but they just swore and said ‘No time’.
“I was very frightened. I’ve owned the shop for nine years and nothing like this has ever happened before.”
Asked if he thought he was about to be shot Mr Price said: “It does go through your mind.
“I’m still very nervous. It’s a real blessing that Clare wasn’t here. I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through that.”
The men being hunted by police
One of the raiders revealed that he had been watching the shop for two weeks.
He added: “You’ll be all right – you’ve got insurance.”
The gang spent about three minutes in the store, leaving their victim shaken but unhurt and the floor covered in broken glass.
Mr Price said: “As soon as they headed for the door I pressed the panic button. I also went to the window and managed to get part of the car’s registration number.”
The jeweller then rang his wife and told her: “I’ve been raided.”
He spent the next few hours giving police a detailed account of the robbery and re-opened the shop several days later after cleaning up the mess made by the gunmen.
“They cleared the window of gold as best they could,” he said.
“They even took my mobile phone. I was holding it when they came in and put it on the floor when I knelt down.
“I went to move it but one of the men said’ Don’t touch that!” and put it in his pocket.
“The police have told me that they’re making progress. I just want them to catch these guys before they do it again.”
Detectives need to hear from any witnesses who have not come forward, plus any hotels or guesthouses where the men may have stayed the night before the robbery on October 17.
Ring Lyndhurst CID on 101, quoting Operation Woodruff.
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