TWO men have been convicted over their involvement in an "utterly shocking" £500,000 armed robbery at Gleneagles.

On June 27 last year, Richard Fleming and Liam Richardson entered the Gleneagles Hotel equipped with hammers, a machete and a pistol.

Acting with another man, they stormed the Mappin & Webb boutique, smashed the display cabinets and rifled 50 of the 51 Rolex watches.

Having threatened staff members, who believed they were witnessing a terror attack, the masked trio then escaped and later set their getaway vehicles ablaze.

Afterwards it was revealed they had stolen £516,750 worth of merchandise, which has still not yet been recovered.

Fleming, 42, from London, denied any involvement, but was convicted by a jury today (Wednesday) following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Richardson, 30, also of London, previously admitted his role in the crime before the trial.

Strathallan Times:

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Patrick headed up the massive investigation into the raid, with more than 200 officers involved.

He said: "I think it must have been utterly shocking and devastating for them to suddenly be subjected to these individuals armed with weapons, running through the hotel foyer.

"Such was the threat level at that time, a lot of the witnesses reported that they thought they were about to be victims of, or witness, a terrorist incident.

"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."

Strathallan Times:

Though the raid lasted only a few minutes, officers believe there was months of planning put into its commission.

DCI Patrick said: "Certainly in my career, I've never dealt with as high a profile robbery.

"It's very unusual for Gleneagles and also for anywhere in Scotland to be subjected to a crime like this, with the levels of violence displayed."

He added: "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."

The pair will be sentenced next month.

Strathallan Times: