Armed robbery, motorbikes and smoke grenades. They sound like the key elements of a cheap movie instead of a Saturday shopping trip, but at 9.15am on 30th March two men armed with a pickaxe entered the Covered Market on a motorbike and attempted to smash their way into John Gowing Jewellers.
Police believe that a member of the public restrained one of the suspects, who then suffered breathing difficulties. At 9.22am the South Central Ambulance Service was called and the man was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in a critical condition. Police have now confirmed that the man died this afternoon, and have named him as Clint Townsend, 33, from Headington.
The other offender escaped on foot wearing a motorbike helmet with the visor down obscuring his face. According to Thames Valley Police, it is thought that he then boarded a bus in the city centre, getting off in the St Clements area.
Nothing was stolen.
Police have now arrested two men on suspicion of robbery and are holding them in custody.
Unconfirmed reports from people working nearby suggest that the robbery was supposed to happen under the cover of smoke but the smoke grenade failed to go off.
Meg, sales assistant in The Hat Box in the Covered Market commented that: “it was rather like a scene from James Bond.”
Andrew, the owner of a café nearby, expressed disdain for the robbers, pointing out that his shop had been robbed before and that this attempt was particularly badly executed.
Miles Dilworth, a fresher at Keble mused: “it is a great shock to hear of such a brutal situation in what I think is a particularly safe city, I’m from East London and this would be unusual even there.
“It also really saddens me that these criminals are targeting local shops run by hard-working people,” he added.
Detective Superintendent Chris Ward of Thames Valley Police issued this message: “This is very much still an active investigation and there are a number of people helping us with our enquiries…We have specially trained officers working with all those involved in this incident.”
He added: “If anyone has any information at all, no matter how insignificant they believe it to be, then I urge you to contact the police. This information might be vital to our investigation.”
If you have any information contact Det Sgt Matt Jarman via 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
PHOTO / jooliargh