A van driver has spoken of his terror after he was threatened with an axe when a gang of armed robbers wreaked rush hour havoc in Leeds.
Tradesman Trevor Wootton, from Cross Gates, was on his way to a job yesterday morning when four men in balaclavas and wielding an array of weapons ordered him and a colleague out of his van in Kirkstall.
It was one of at least three vehicles stolen by the robbers during a crime spree that started with a failed raid on a jewellery store in Harrogate.
The gang eventually escaped after abandoning Mr Wootton’s van and car-jacking a Vaxhall Corsa in front of stunned onlookers on Kirkstall Road at about 9am.
Police were still looking for them last night.
Mr Wootton said: “It was just unbelievable, absolutely terrifying. I’m in total shock – there’s no way you can prepare for anything like that.”
The 52-year-old, who has run TJ’s Gas, Electrical and Plumbing Installation for 20 years, was stuck in traffic near Kirkstall Abbey when the incident happened.
He said: “I was going from one job to another when an orange Ford Focus came flying down the other side of the road, but it had a tyre blown out. It pulled up beside the car in front – a black BMW – and four men got out wielding an axe, a fire extinguisher and what I thought was a gun.
“They just started smashing the windows of the car. Then they went to the boot of the car with what I assumed was their stash in a white bag, but the driver sped off. Fair play to him – he was really brave.
“They jumped back in the Focus, but couldn’t go anywhere because of the flat tyre. Then they came for us.”
Mr Wootton said the gang shouted at him and his colleague to get out while brandishing the axe and sped off in the van. It is thought they rammed a number of other vehicles before abandoning it and robbing another driver at the junction with Kirkstall Lane.
He added: “I’m 6ft tall and well built – but you just don’t mess with people like that. I just hope everyone is all right.”