David Gold: My fear at learning I was on armed raid gang hit list

Terrified football tycoon David Gold has turned his home into a fortress after learning he is on the hit list of Britain’s most wanted armed robbers.

The West Ham co-owner has spent £250,000 installing CCTV, a direct phone line to the police… and even a PANIC ROOM.

David Gold and fiancee Leslie

Mr Gold, 74, says he’s been living in fear since being told by police that he was a target of the gang, who have carried out a series of violent raids on rich businessmen.

He was given the warning after a crowbar attack which almost killed Phones4u founder John Caudwell.

Police believe the gang, made up of a hardcore of 20 thugs led by a “Mr Big”, research every aspect of their victims’ lives and movements before striking.

Mr Gold, who is worth £360million, said his friend Mr Caudwell had spoken to him and left him in little doubt about the threat he faced.

He told the Sunday Mirror: “From the information the police gave me, it was a question of when, not if, the gang would try something.

“When I spoke to John Caudwell he told me, ‘you’ve got to take this seriously because this gang is going to kill someone’. I have been terrified.” Mr Gold, who also owns the Ann Summers lingerie firm, has turned a suite of his 30-room Surrey mansion into “panic rooms”.

In the event of a robbery, he will lock himself and fiancee Lesley Manning behind heavy triple-bolted steel doors. Once inside, he has a direct line to the police and can watch any raiders on a TV screen linked to more than a dozen CCTV cameras. Guards patrol the 55-acre estate 24 hours a day.

Mr Gold said he improved security after a near-fatal bout of septicaemia in February. “It made me realise how vulnerable I am,” he said. “I wanted to take ­ whatever measures I could to defend myself and Lesley.

“I’ve done everything I can and I feel much safer now. But I’m still on red alert until this gang is caught.”

Police have been following up new leads on last November’s raid on Mr Caudwell’s Staffordshire home after it featured on Crimewatch. Three men from Liverpool were arrested but later released on bail.

by Gary Anderson, Sunday Mirror 26/06/2011