A heavily pregnant mum was told her unborn baby would be sliced from her stomach, and her two children’s throats would be slit, by masked robbers who carried out a terrifying raid on a family home in Sheffield.
Husband and wife Clare and Steven Foster were at home with their 15-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son in Mortomley Close, High Green, when three armed intruders - Ajay Rowding, Kallum Flowers and another man - broke in and held them hostage.
In a sickening ordeal which lasted almost an hour, Rowding threatened to slit the children’s throats and kill the family dog, and vowed to slice Mrs Foster’s unborn child from her stomach then cut the baby’s throat.
The family was told they would be tied up overnight, and the children would have their fingers chopped off.
Judge Peter Kelson QC described the case as ‘very, very serious’ and ‘truly shocking’.
“The things that were said, and the threats that were issued, were utterly horrific, chilling threats, which will not, I am sure, fade from the memories of the victims for many years,” he told Sheffield Crown Court.
“It’s difficult to conceive how utterly terrifying it must have been.”
Rowding and Flowers, both aged 23, both pleaded guilty to robbery.
As they were jailed for 12 years each, one of the thugs hurled a cup of water across the courtroom from the dock, showering Judge Kelson with water.
Once released from prison, the pair will spend the duration of their sentence - plus an extra five years - on licence, meaning they could be recalled to jail if they fall foul of the law again.
Armed with a crowbar and a bread knife, the menacing thugs forced the family down onto their kitchen floor while they ransacked the property.
Rowding, of Fife Street, Wincobank, stabbed the knife into a sofa and chair in the house while he and Flowers, of Gloucester Street, Broomhall, held the family to ransom.
Mark McKone, prosecuting, said: “Mrs Foster says she has never been so scared - she thought her children were going to be killed or harmed.”
The court heard the motive for the robbery was linked to drugs - and that Mr and Mrs Foster had cannabis plants growing in their home.
Judge Kelson said the terrifying crime highlighted the dangers of the drug trade.
“The police recognise that in South Yorkshire growing cannabis in houses is carrying in its wake a large amount of serious organised crime,” he said.
“One of these is the infliction of serious violence, or the threat of it, to growers of cannabis.”
Mr McKone said the raiders stole hydroponics equipment used to grow cannabis in the house, as well as a Hyundai car, a Transit van, two mobile phones, four flat screen TVs, cash, jewellery, clothing and a games console, worth a total of £27,960.
The thugs were traced when police found the stolen van parked up on Oaks Fold Road, Shiregreen, with its engine still running - and Flowers’ partner’s brother, Matthew Fothergill, asleep inside.
The TVs and games console were in the back of the vehicle, and Rowding’s thumbprint was found on one of the TVs.
Fothergill, aged 31, of Sycamore Road, Ecclesfield, admitted handling stolen goods and was jailed for three years in March.
Rowding has 27 previous convictions, for offences including assault, burglary, possessing a knife, battery and robbery.
Flowers has 22 previous convictions, for offences including affray, possessing a knife, robbery, burglary and assaulting a police officer.