Racehorse trainer tells of robbery ordeal at hands of masked gunmen

A SUCCESSFUL racehorse trainer has described how he believed his wife had suffered a heart attack when masked raiders held them up at gunpoint and robbed them of more than £100,000.

Howard and Sue Johnson, both 56, were relaxing at their farmhouse in County Durham, after one of the busiest weekends in the racing calendar when the terrifying eight-minute robbery took place.

Mr Johnson, the best National Hunt trainer in Northern England, was forced to open the safe in his extended house – which has an indoor swimming pool and stands behind high stone walls – then was told not to call police or they would be shot.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After watching Royal Rosa compete in the Grand National at the weekend, followed by a further 12 of his horses racing yesterday Mr Johnson was relaxing at home reading the paper on Sunday night when the masked men tried to break down a door. One was brandishing a handgun while the other had a 7in knife.

They forced him to hand over the contents of his safe which was around 100,000 – plus a further 1,000 left over from his weekend at Aintree.

Mr Johnson said the gunman threatened him: "If you don't get the safe open in 30 seconds, I will shoot you."

The raiders fled, taking phones and car keys to prevent their victims easily raising the alarm to their hillside property, which sits off a main road down a single-track lane.

Mr Johnson said: "Sue was shaking. I thought she had had a heart attack."

The couple waited 20 minutes before calling the police, and armed police were on the scene within minutes.

Sniffer dogs were called out along with the police helicopter.