AN ARMED gang broke into a family’s home and terrorised two sisters and their brother, holding a saw to the neck of one of the women before realising they had the wrong house.
The raiders then fled from the house in Chandos Street, Upper Stoke, Coventry – but one of them was later arrested after spots of his blood were found.
And Flavio Dias, 19, from Hornchurch, Essex, was jailed for five years and four months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to attempted robbery.
Prosecutor Amy Jackson said that on August 28 two sisters and their brother were asleep at their home in Chandos Street when the women were woken by a noise at 3.15am.
They roused their brother and the three of them, all in their 20s, went downstairs where they saw a window had been broken and Dias, brandishing a bat, was coming in through the front door.
The brother picked up a chair to try to fend him off, but other men armed with knives and a machete followed Dias into the house, and the women were ordered to ‘get down and shut up.’
One of the sisters and their brother were forced into the kitchen, and when the other sister tried to follow them, one of the gang made his hand into the shape of a gun towards her.
As two of the gang carried out a search upstairs, another of the men then held a saw to that sister’s neck, ordering her to stop screaming and to shut up.
Meanwhile in the kitchen her brother had been pushed to the floor by Dias while another of the intruders pushed the other sister down onto a chair.
Neighbours who had been disturbed by the commotion then heard someone shouting they had got the wrong address.
“That ties in with the victims saying they had no idea why they had been targeted,” observed Miss Jackson.
There was then a shout of ‘Let’s go,’ and the robbers all left the house.
Dias, who had a previous conviction for robbery when he was 14, was identified as one of the intruders after spots of his blood were found at the scene.
At first he denied having been involved, but then said he had been put under pressure to take part.
David Murray, defending, said: “He has said ‘What you give me I will do. I’ve got to pay for this offence, and I will use my time properly to improve my position.’
“He understands a lengthy custodial sentence will follow, and while in custody he has applied for courses in mental health and history and has undertaken an English entry-level course.”
Of the offence, Mr Murray said: “There was an element of pressure here. He says he was first through the door. He was used as cannon fodder by others behind him.
“In fact it was the wrong premises. He was not told the whole story, but this was effectively the collection of a debt. He was put under pressure to take part to pay off his own debt.
“He accepts it was an entirely innocent family. As soon as whoever was behind this realised it was the wrong house, they left.”
Sentencing Dias, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “You travelled up from Romford. That is significant, because you had every opportunity to consider what you were going to do.
“Quite why your intelligence did not come to bear and lead you to realise that what you were going to do was not only wrong, but was dreadfully wrong, I don’t know.
“The family were asleep, and their first indication that something untoward was going to happen was when they heard noises downstairs.
“It does not take much imagination to understand how terrifying it must have been – and that was before they saw you coming into the house carrying weapons.”