A MANHUNT is this evening continuing after four masked men robbed a security guard at a bank in York.

The men are understood to have been lying in wait to ambush a G4S van delivering cash to the HSBC branch in York Road, Acomb, at 9.45am today.

They over-powered the courier and stole a cash box, before fleeing in a black Vauxhall Zafira car, which was later found burnt-out on a path off Celtic Close, near Beckfield Lane. The cash box was found in Carr Lane, but police have refused to say how much money was taken.

The delivery man was not injured but was said by police to be suffering shock.

One woman who witnessed the attack, but did not want to be named, said: "I was just coming home from shopping at Tesco and had just got out of the car when I heard shouts from behind me, someone shouting "get down, get down" very loudly. I turned round and saw the security guard on the floor at this point.

"There were four youths jumping into a black car. The four were all dressed in black with black masks. The car sped off - it all happened in seconds.

"I ran straight into the house to call the police and before I came off the phone the police had arrived on the scene."

Another witness, Chardy Brearley, told The Press: "There was a group of about four men beating down the security guard and they came running out with a box of money, got in a black car and sped away through Acomb. But I didn't see any faces because they were covered."

A man living in a house next to the abandoned car said he smelt smoke and called the fire service and then set about trying to extinguish the flames using a water and a bucket.

Another neighbour said she thought the occupants may have escaped through a snickleway on to Beckfield Lane.

The robbery is the second in Acomb in the past seven months. In April, a G4S security guard needed hospital treatment after he was robbed by masked men outside the Lloyds TSB branch in Front Street.

Mel Scott, G4S cash regional operations director for the north, said today: “An attack was made on one of our cash vehicles in York. Fortunately, our courier was not physically injured and management is on hand to support the crew and their family. However, the psychological impact attacks of this nature can have on individuals should not be underestimated.

"We take the safety and security of our staff extremely seriously, and we work closely with the police and our technology providers to give our staff the best possible protection.

"Our staff have the right to expect to be able to go about their duties without fear of attack and we are working with the police so that those responsible for this incident can be made accountable for their actions in court."

Police urgently want to hear from anyone who saw the black Zafira between York Road and Beckfield Lane, or who saw anyone running away from the vehicle, or who knows who committed the robbery. Anyone with information is asked to phone police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.