A man has been found guilty of armed robbery following a raid on a jewellery store in Gleneagles hotel.
Richard Fleming, 42, stole dozens of Rolex watches, estimated to be worth more than £500,000, during the theft at the Perthshire hotel’s Mappin and Webb boutique on June 27, 2017.
He was found guilty of armed robbery and two counts off assault at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
Liam Richardson, 29, pleaded guilty of armed robbery at an earlier hearing.
The pair are due to be sentenced in October. The stolen haul of watches has yet to be recovered.
Detective chief inspector Andrew Patrick said that Fleming and Richardson, both from London, left visitors fearing they were witnessing a terrorist attack during their “violent” robbery.
DCI Patrick headed the massive investigation into the pair’s raid on the upmarket hotel – with more than 200 officers across the UK involved in the probe into the robbery.
He said the robbery – which lasted just three minutes from start to finish – left witnesses diving to the floor fearing an atrocity was about to take place.
The senior officer described the painstaking investigation that police undertook that finally led to the pair facing justice.
DCI Patrick said: “Staff and witnesses going about their business thought what they had witnessed was a terrorist attack given the threat level at that moment in time.
“It was very quickly evident it wasn’t a terror attack. But that’s how the people going about the foyer described it to us.
“People dropped to the floor when they saw people run in with firearms and knives. It was the innocent members of the public there who thought there was going to be a terror attack.
“If you saw the level of violence there’s no exaggeration to think you were about to be part of or witness a terror attack.”
The officer said the pair were part of a criminal network and that none of the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of watches they stole had ever been recovered.
He said: “This was clearly an organised robbery. There was an element of planning and preparation.
“The people involved had travelled from London to Glasgow to then commit the crime. It was clearly an organised and planned attack.
“The firearms – whether viable or not – had the desired effect on the witnesses. In the days before they committed a number of crimes. They were using vehicles stolen from England to perpetrate this attack.
“There was a visit to Gleneagles prior to the robbery taking place by some of the individuals. There was reconnaisance.”
He added: “At this moment in time we haven’t managed to recover any of the stolen property.
“There are a number of ways it could have been disposed of by criminal networks.
“Anyone with information about the current whereabouts of any of the property we’d like to hear from them.”
Describing the crooks, the senior investigating officer said: “These were organised criminals with a criminal history.
“The level of violence displayed was very frightening for the staff and those who witnessed it. They drove back to Glasgow then used the train to get back to London.
“It was an easy way to get back to London without being seen using the stolen vehicles.
“They are organised criminals. The level of violence displayed shows the kind of background they have.
“What happened in Gleneagles last year was at the extreme level.
“We looked at other similar premises that might have been targeted – for example the Old Course in St Andrews, where they committed other housebreakings in the days before the robbery.”
There is another branch of the jeweller hit by the pair at the famous golf hotel in the Fife town.
DCI Patrick added: “Perhaps they thought that by travelling to Gleneagles – the fact its a remote location with good transport links and because they’re from England and wouldn’t be known they might have the opportunity to perpetrate such a crime there.
“It’s a rural part of Scotland but they could make a quick getaway.
“You might think there’s less chance for CCTV or for witnesses to see. All of that formed part of the investigation.
“When you draw it all together we were able to identify when they came to Scotland and almost where they were every day.”