Jeweller: I jumped on robber

Neil Kay Jewellery in Wigan
Neil Kay Jewellery in Wigan

A BRAVE Wigan jeweller has told how he was slashed with a machete as he fought in vain to thwart another robbery on his shop.

His hand heavily bandaged after the blade cut deep wounds, he spoke of his anger at being targeted by masked gangs for the second time in 18 months – although he does not think it is the same thugs as last time.

In 2012 his store in the Galleries’ Tyldesley Arcade was plundered for valuables by a masked fancy dress gang masquerading as Halloween charity collectors.

On Thursday afternoon, three men in masks parked up on nearby Marsden Street, forced their way into the shop armed with a machete and sledgehammer and demanded goods from the cabinets.

In the melee Mr Kay received a number of wounds to his hands while his assistant Michelle Rhoden was pinned down by two of the thugs while the other looted the premises.

The thieves got away with tens of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery including a number of Rolex watches after they made threats towards staff.

They were seen driving off in the direction of Bridgeman Terrace in a stolen Grey Vauxhall Astra.

Mr Kay said: “It was a horrible ordeal that I would never want to go through again.

“I was serving a customer when I heard an almighty bang and looked up to see three or four men had burst through the locked door.

“It was just instinct that I immediately lunged towards one of them and started grappling with him. Unfortunately he had a machete. The other two barged past me into the shop. I didn’t realise I had been cut at first. I was just in a state of shock and it seemed to go on forever and a day.

“A substantial amount of stock was taken but that does not matter. It was Michelle and any other innocent parties that were important. These men do not care for anybody’s safety.”

Mr Kay said he did not think it was the same gang as the last raider because this time they had local accents.

Eyewitnesses say that at first they did not take the raid seriously.

One, who did not wish to be named, said: “I honestly thought it was a joke at first. There were hundreds of people standing around and I saw a car pull up next to the Tavern and three really big lads jumped out wearing what I thought looked like Hallowe’en masks, gloves and wearing all black - it just looked like some kids messing about.

“They were wearing balaclavas but they were pointy at the head - everybody was laughing at first, it was then I realised just how serious it was.

“I saw that they were carrying machetes and a few ladies started screaming. They ran towards the shop and the next minute the owner came flying out.

“The whole thing lasted only minutes. When they came out of the shop there was a girl standing in their way and she looked absolutely terrified and was shaking all over.

“I saw the guy in the car do a sharp three-point turn, he was wearing a hoodie on such a boiling hot day.

“It was funny though as when they sped off there were road works at the end of the street which stalled them for a bit before speeding off towards Standish.”

Anyone with information should phone police on 0161 856 7124 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.