Terrified Sunderland mum had knife held to throat by masked bedroom intruder who stole her dog

Paul Mason

Paul Mason

A terrified mum had a knife held to her throat by a masked intruder who climbed in through her bedroom window and made off with her pet dog.

The woman had been woken by a stranger, who was wearing a black stocking mask and carrying a knife, in the early hours of November 1 and said the ordeal has left her "absolutely terrified".

Newcastle Crown Court heard the raider, who had a gang waiting outside the victim's Sunderland home, demanded money then fled with her pet Jack Russell/Chihuahua cross when she activated her panic alarm.

Paul Mason, of Emsworth Road, Southwick, Sunderland, was caught nearby trying to hide himself and the dog, who was worth over £200, underneath a car in a nearby street.

He admitted burglary and said he was acting as lookout during the raid but denied knowing any weapon would be involved.

Mr Recorder Paul Kirtley sentenced the 24-year-old, who has previous convictions, to two-and-a-half years behind bars.

The judge told him: "I acknowledge that you did not know what the people were going to do inside the house and you were not aware that a weapon was being used.

"However, you engaged in what was a very serious offence, one in respect of which at the very least you took the risk that there would be someone inside and that the person may well be frightened by the events that were going to take place."

The court heard the raider had gone into the woman's home in Hendon via her bedroom window which had previously been broken and was boarded up.

Prosecutor Vince Ward told the court: "At 5am on November 1 she was woken up by the noise of someone putting that board in and entering her bedroom.

"That person was wearing a black stocking mask and he held a weapon to her throat, a screw driver or knife."

The court heard the raider may have been looking for the victim's son and was asking for money inside the house.

Mr Ward added: "She had a panic alarm installed in the house and that was activated by her.

"The intruder was talking to someone outside, inviting someone from outside to come inside but that person declined to enter.

"He left, taking the complainant's dog with him. The dog was a cross between a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua and cost £220."

In a victim statement the woman said she now feels like a "prisoner in her own home" and that the attack left her afraid to sleep in her own bed.

She said she has been left "petrified" by what happened and pushes a wooden cabinet against her locked front door in a bid to feel safe when she is at home.

Shaun Routledge, defending, said at least four people were involved in the raid and that Mason had no knowledge of what would happen inside the house.

Mr Routledge said Mason lost both of his parents while he was still a teenager and has "drifted" in life since.