Widow too terrified to go home after raid by knife men

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A TERRIFIED widow was warned she would be stabbed when she woke to find two raiders ransacking her bedroom.

The pensioner is now too frightened to return to the Sunderland home where she lived for more than 30 years.

The 60-year-old, who had lost her husband just six months earlier, was disturbed by a loud noise in the early hours of May 7 when find the men armed with a large knife.

The Echo understands the weapon was pointed just inches from the “petrified” victim’s face as she lay in bed and she was threatened with being stabbed when she made her way downstairs.

Darren Roberts and his accomplice, who has never been caught, targeted the house in Southwick, after being told there was a safe inside.

They made off with £1,200 worth of jewellery, sentimental personal items and £25 in cash after the frightened widow, who lived alone and has been too scared to return to her home, gave them the safe’s code.

The victim said: “I fear I will never be able to return and settle.”

Roberts, of Ridley Street, Southwick, who has convictions for a robbery conspiracy and violence, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at Newcastle Crown Court.

Yesterday, Mr Recorder Keith Miller sentenced the 25-year-old to eight years behind bars and said the attack was “horrific”.

The judge said: “It must have been terrifying for her, a widow who had only recently lost her husband, who was in a state of poor health, being in bed and being confronted by a couple of men who had entered her house, breaking in through a glass door.”

The judge said the stab threat would have increased the woman’s “terror” and told Roberts: “She lived in that house for 31 years, more years than you have had on this earth.

“She was doubtless extremely fond of the house and it presumably had happy memories for her going back over many years.

“Even among thieves there ought to be some degree of concern for the victims.”

The victim was too scared to return home after her ordeal and has since been hospitalised following a fall.

The court heard the householder had been woken by a “loud crashing noise” but thought it was something outside so tried to settle back down.

Paul Rowland, prosecuting, told the court: “Very shortly after that a man wearing a black jacket came into her bedroom, he came to the side of the bed on which she was lying. He was holding a large knife, that being a blade of about six to seven inches in length.

“Not surprisingly, she was petrified at this time.

“He asked where the safe was and said “we know you’ve got money”.

The court heard the two strangers carried out an “untidy search” of the room while the householder went downstairs in a state of shock.

Mr Rowland added: “At one point, one of those concerned threatened to stab her.”

Robin Patton, defending, said Roberts, who has been in custody almost constantly since the age of 18, was not the raider holding the knife and had ensured the property that was taken, excluding the cash, got returned to the woman.