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West Hampstead bar manager describes “terrifying” gunpoint robbery

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 December 2011

Victim had jewellery taken

Victim had jewellery taken

2010 Getty Images

The manager of a West Hampstead bar has described the terrifying moment two armed robbers cocked a pistol at his face as they stole his takings.

The hooded gunmen burst into The Gallery in Broadhurst Gardens, shortly after midnight on Sunday (November 27) as bar staff were cashing up for the evening.

Brandishing guns, they accosted a barman while he was on a cigarette break outside and made him take them to the office.

There they kicked him and another barman to the ground.

The pair then demanded the manager Ian Black unlock the safe and hand over all the bar’s takings.

The 35-year-old manager said: “The man pushed the gun at me. He said ‘Open the safe and give me the money’. Then they both cocked their guns.

“I got this adrenalin rush. There was no time really to be scared.

“At first I was looking around the office for a weapon. It quickly goes through your mind but then you think, you know what, they have a gun and it is probably better to do what they say.

“We were all just in shock, hoping that these men wouldn’t shoot us. It was a pretty terrifying experience.

“But it is more surreal than anything because at the time we were just thinking, are they going to shoot? And whether they would shoot us dead.”

The robbers, one masked with a scarf across his face, then made the three men hand over their wallets and mobile phones in the ten minute hold-up, before fleeing the scene.

Mr Black said he believed the raid was planned, and that the two robbers were lurking at a nearby bus stop waiting for customers to leave before they pounced.

The armed robbery was the first time in eight years Mr Black had been forced to call the police to the venue, which lies in the heart of leafy West Hampstead.

He said: “I’ve been mugged before but not in West Hampstead because it is such a nice area. It is a really nice area. This is really out of the blue.”

Mr Black has called for improved street lighting in Broadhurst Gardens, which he hopes will deter loitering in the area.

He added: “We will certainly be more vigilant and probably speak to the local shop keepers and we might join neighbourhood Watch.”

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