Two men have been convicted over their involvement in a “terrifying” £500,000 armed robbery at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel.
Richard Fleming and Liam Richardson carried hammers, a machete and a pistol when they raided the hotel in Auchterarder, Perthshire, on 27 June last year.
The masked men made off with dozens of high-value Rolex watches worth more than half a million pounds, which have not yet been recovered.
The nature of the assault and the “extreme” level of violence shown led staff and visitors to the complex to think they were witnessing a terror attack, police said.
Fleming, 42, from London, who denied being involved, was convicted by a jury today following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Richardson, 30, also of London, admitted his part in the robbery before the trial got underway.
The pair, described by police as organised criminals, will be sentenced next month.
The raid at the remote site was highly planned and lasted for less than three minutes.
Armed with the weapons, Fleming and Richardson, acting with another individual, ran into the hotel and smashed up the display cabinets at the Mappin & Webb boutique within the complex.
Placing the employees in a state of fear and alarm for their safety, the men fled with the watches in a vehicle stolen from the south of England.
Police have since praised members of staff, particularly the security team on site, who went “above and beyond” in their efforts to challenge the robbers and protect the public that day.
A painstaking investigation into the raid was launched by detectives, which ultimately involved more than 200 officers around the UK.
Police work included scrutinising hours of CCTV footage and identifying the two vehicles used in the raid.
A couple of housebreakings earlier in the month in St Andrews, Fife, also led police towards identifying the suspects, who were arrested in London a few weeks after the Gleneagles attack.
The High Court jury returned majority guilty verdicts against Fleming on a charge of armed robbery and two of assault after two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.
Fleming earlier admitted breaking into houses in St Andrews on 12 June last year, around two weeks before the Gleneagles raid.
Richardson earlier pleaded guilty to the armed robbery charge.
Judge Lady Carmichael told both men they would be sentenced on 24 October.
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Patrick, who headed the investigation, said the level of violence shown at the Gleneagles incident was frightening for people at the hotel.
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.”
Describing the crime as very unusual, he 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.”
Welcoming the convictions, DCI Patrick added: “I’d like to acknowledge the bravery of those who witnessed this reckless and terrifying robbery and to thank them for their help with our inquiries.
“I’d also like to thank the other police forces and our partners, including colleagues in the Metropolitan Police, for their support in Police Scotland’s arrest of these individuals in London.
“This was a painstaking inquiry which took many weeks and the efforts of the officers and police staff who worked on this case should also be recognised.
“I hope this sends out a powerful message to those who may be thinking they can carry out crimes of this kind, that we will find you and we will bring you to justice. Police Scotland will not tolerate this kind of crime in our communities.”