Armed raid on village hotel

A hotel duty manager was threatened at gunpoint by four masked men in an armed robbery in a Norfolk village. A gang of masked men - three of whom carried shotgun-style weapons and another armed with an axe - entered the Woodland Lodge Hotel at Northwold, near Thetford, shortly after 11pm on Wednesday and forced him at gunpoint to open a safe.

A hotel duty manager was threatened at gunpoint by four masked men in an armed robbery in a Norfolk village.

A gang of masked men - three of whom carried shotgun-style weapons and another armed with an axe - entered the Woodland Lodge Hotel at Northwold, near Thetford, shortly after 11pm on Wednesday and forced him at gunpoint to open a safe.

The men, wearing dark balaclavas, dark clothing and gloves, got in through a back door - and made off with a quantity of cash.

The victim, who is in his 20s, was uninjured but left extremely shaken by the attack.

Neither the gang, nor their dark saloon car were found despite an extensive search. Detectives last night appealed for witnesses.

The four offenders were all white. Three were described as between 18 and 22 and "young, slim and athletic" while the fourth was described as of large build with a beer belly and thought to be about 40.

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Norfolk police spokesman Beth Manning said: "This was an extremely frightening incident for the victim who thankfully escaped unhurt. We are appealing for any witnesses to suspicious activity or vehicles seen in the area in the run- up to the robbery, the car leaving the scene with the four men or anyone with any further information about this offence to contact police immediately."

The Northwold hotel, off the A134 Thetford Road, is run by the Comfort Inn chain and was bought by a pension fund earlier this year in a £1.1m deal. It employs 25 staff and has 34 bedrooms, as well as a restaurant, banqueting, and conference facilities.

Richard Holden, a spokesman for Comfort Inn, said no guests were involved in the incident and the hotel was open yesterday.

"The member of staff involved was uninjured and conducted himself very sensibly and promptly through a fairly harrowing experience and we are keeping an eye on him," he said.

Anyone who can help should call Det Con Ian Young at Downham Market CID on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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