AN innocent couple were dramatically arrested by armed police who thought they were about to hold up a bank with a gun.

The man and woman were pulled over by two police cars outside Barclays Bank, in Ness Road, Shoebury, because officers believed they were carrying a gun.

The man was ordered to kneel on the ground and was handcuffed before he and the woman were taken away for questioning.

The weapon which a member of the public reported to police turned out to be a wheelbrace for their Peugeot 407. The operation involved armed officers, a police dog unit, and plain-clothed officers who are believed to have followed the couple’s car before it was stopped.

Estate agent Alexander Ashe watched the drama unfold through the window of his Bairstow Eves office.

He said: “The first thing we heard was police telling this man to get on the ground and we thought it was a bank robbery.

“They grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and handcuffed him.”

Another witness, Robert West, said: “I’d just pulled on to Ness Road and was following the Peugeot south towards Campfield Road when two police cars, with just their lights flashing, hurtled past.

“The Peugeot pulled across the road, into a kerbside parking bay, and the police jumped out of their cars, guns in hand.”

A shop owner, who asked not to be named, said: “The first I knew about it was when I heard lots of screaming and shouting.

“There were at least two police cars and three or four armed officers, pointing their guns.”

The couple were led away, questioned and released without charge within half-an-hour of the incident.

Essex Police spokeswoman Helen Cook said: “A member of the public reported seeing a firearm.

“We sent the armed response unit there and a couple were stopped and questioned.

“There was no firearm. It turned out they had a wheelbrace with them.”

  • Are you the couple who were wrongly arrested? Please ring the Echo newsdesk on 01702 321159