Antiques shop raid terror

A YOUNG man had a gun pointed at his head and was bundled into a cupboard in a terrifying robbery on his parents' antiques shop.John Manning, 28, was looking after the shop in the centre of Ipswich while his mother, Wendy Childs, and step-father, Graham, went to a wedding in London.

A YOUNG man had a gun pointed at his head and was bundled into a cupboard in a terrifying robbery on his parents' antiques shop.

John Manning, 28, was looking after the shop in the centre of Ipswich while his mother, Wendy Childs, and step-father, Graham, went to a wedding in London.

However, they had just left for the occasion when the robber struck at Merchant House, in St Peter's Street, at about 1.15pm.

Mr Manning, who runs his business Renaissance Properties from the shop, was alone in his office at the back of the building when a man came in, pretending to be a customer.

He said: "He came through to the back office with a gun and had me at gunpoint. He demanded money and then he locked me in a cupboard.

"He then pulled me out of the cupboard at gunpoint and was after my laptop so he made me untie my laptop and put it in my bag."

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The man then demanded that Mr Manning stay in the cupboard for 10 minutes while he made a getaway with the laptop and about £200 in petty cash as well as the contents of Mr Manning's backpack.

But after a few minutes Mr Manning heard the female voice of a customer in the shop and decided it was safe to come out, escaping to the neighbouring ice cream business to raise the alarm.

He said: "I was pretty shocked and surprised. I had never seen a gun before and to have one pointing at you is pretty frightening. I didn't have time to think or react."

His brother, Robert, 29, popped into the shop in his lunch-break to check on his parents' home above Merchant House and their adjoining antiques shop, Maud's Attic.

He said that it had been quite quiet that morning so there was not a great deal of money in the shop and that it was lucky the incident did not happen the day before, when they had a cash sale of about £1,000.

"John seems alright but is a bit shaken up. He was supposed to stay here tonight but I don't think he will now," he said

"Most of the items are quite expensive so people pay by card so there is not usually a lot of cash here.

"I think if it was going to happen it was a shame it wasn't about 15 minutes later as me and my brother's friend went to the shop then."

At first it was not clear if the robber had escaped through the front door or had gone upstairs into Mr and Mrs Childs home. However, Mr Manning said that a police officer, armed with a shield, had made a thorough search of the property and found no one.

He said: "Nothing like this has happened before. People have been boisterous outside the shop before but that has been all and they have been here for seven years now.

"A couple of times windows have been smashed on the shop but we do not know if they were trying to break in or had just had a drink."

Suffolk police said they were searching for a white male, who was aged in his 30s. He had close cropped hair or a bald head and was wearing a blue top.

Anyone with any information should contact Ipswich CID 01473 383133 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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