'We had just blown out the candles' - couple describe moment masked robbers invade son's 10th birthday party
PUBLISHED: 07:56 13 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:22 13 January 2019
A couple whose son's 10th birthday party was invaded by masked robbers with knives have described the terrifying moment the attackers burst into their home.
Just before 7pm on Friday night, the family were throwing an ‘impromptu’ birthday party at their house on Hunter Road, Catton Grove.
They had just sung happy birthday and blown out the candles on the cake when there was a “loud knock” at the front door, the couple said.
The man, 55, who has asked not to be named, went to the door but nobody was there.
Three men with their faces covered then burst through the back door and into the living room, where the children were sitting on the sofa eating cake.
They demanded cannabis and cash from the unsuspecting couple, while brandishing blades.
“At first we thought it was a joke or something, we just didn’t process it,” said the man.
“We had just sung happy birthday and blown out the candles. They were all sat here eating on the sofa in a little row.
“This was a kid’s party and they didn’t care - they just carried on.”
The men were saying ‘where is the weed, where is the money’, the couple said.
“I just said ‘what are you on about, there’s nothing here’,” the man said.
The trio are described as black, two were around 6ft tall with one shorter - around 5’5”.
One was carrying a knife with a black, serrated blade.
The woman added: “[My husband] said to phone the police so I got my phone but the little one snatched it out of my hand.
“He was really vicious.”
The men pushed her into her husband and they both “went flying”, she added.
“They did seem unsure of themselves,” added the man. “The big one ran out and I just started saying to the others, ‘get out, I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ve got the wrong address’.
“The little one wouldn’t leave so I pushed him out of the back door, but he had his arm still inside with the blade trying to slice me.
“It was all over in seconds. I was just on automatic really and thinking about it now how lucky we all were that nobody got stabbed or hurt.”
The victims were “shaken” but uninjured, but the woman’s mobile phone - an Alcatel U5 - was stolen in the attack.
It has voice recordings of her late mother on it, and the couple are hoping for its return.
It has a cracked screen and a ‘pop-socket’ on the back.
A manhunt was launched as police “flooded” the area after the incident, but no arrests have yet been made.
Duty inspector Graham Dalton of Norfolk Police said the men may have targeted the wrong house.
“We suspect these are Gravity offenders because they were asking for drugs when they went into the address,” he said.
“That is really sad especially as there were some children in the address.
“We did flood the area to try to look for the suspects but unfortunately we didn’t manage to locate them. We have enquiries ongoing locally, including CCTV.”
The woman, 37, who also asked not to be named, said the couple have had no sleep since the “traumatic” incident.
“We have been up all night just sitting on the sofa with a hammer,” she said. “We haven’t slept.
“The kids are resilient, we got them upstairs as soon as we could, but it was a traumatic event.”
The man added: “The fact they didn’t go any further showed they were unsure of themselves. I think they believed us when we said there is nothing here.
“It just seemed a really badly thought-out crime.”
The couple said their son asked them after the attack: “Why did they have to spoil my birthday?”
Plans for the family to go roller-skating today have been cancelled.
Insp Dalton said the incident must have been “very distressing” for those involved, and moved to reassure victims and those living nearby that officers were doing “everything we can to find the offenders quickly”.
And he added: “If anyone has any information as to why this property may have been targeted please get in touch.”
Anyone with any information should contact Norwich CID on 101. Alternatively information can be left with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111