A nine-year-old Luton girl has been left traumatised after a terrifying attack on her family home by a gang of masked men wielding machetes.
The girl’s father and grandfather, who was recovering from a heart attack, were forced to use their bodies to hold their front door in place after it was kicked down by the three armed men.
The father’s arm was slashed by a machete as he desperately held the door in place – keeping the armed men away from his family.
Despite the family’s ordeal, they say they have not been offered suitable emergency accommodation by Luton Borough Council and were even told by a housing officer to return to their address.
“It has been worse than useless,” said the father. “We spent two nights sleeping in our car as it’s not safe to go back.”
The shocking incident took place at the family’s home in Hockwell Ring on Wednesday, January 9.
The father said: “We heard a loud bang and saw our door was on the floor. There were three men.
“The one standing in front stepped back as if he didn’t know what to do, it was as though he didn’t expect to see so many people.
“One of the others went to the window and smashed it.”
The family’s eldest daughter said: “My grandfather instinctively lifted up the front door and pushed it back against the doorway, covering it as best as he could.
“Two of the men started bashing it, my dad used his body to hold the door. There was maybe a 30 or 40cm gap left ... One man was waving his machete through the gap and it caught my dad’s arm.”
She added that her younger sister, who is nine, ran screaming to the top of the stairs and witnessed the entire episode.
Police apparently took over 20 minutes to arrive, by which time the offenders had fled. The father said: “I was holding the door while on the phone to the police and it was a million and one questions ... [the operator] was asking how many centimetres the knife was...”
The family slept in their car over the next two days. After seeking emergency accommodation from Luton Borough Council, the family state they were offered a fourth-floor flat with no lift facilities – deemed unsuitable because of the father’s osteoporosis.
The family claim that the housing officer insisted they could return to their home despite of what had taken place, and that their current landlord was obliged to inform the officer that this was not safe.
A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “The council appreciates what a traumatic experience the attempted robbery must have been for the family and we have offered to provide them with suitable, safe and healthy accommodation.”
The above statement was refuted by a family member, who said: “How is accommodation healthy and safe for a very disabled person when its on the fourth floor without a lift?
“We have contacted our local MP as well and he devastated about how they have been treated.”
Chief Inspector Rachael Glendenning of Bedfordshire Police said: “We are investigating a report of an aggravated burglary on Wednesday, January 9. We were called just before 9.45pm to reports that three men had broken into a property and threatened the occupants with knives.
“We do understand this must have been an incredibly distressing incident which naturally left the victim shaken, and investigations are on-going to help identify those responsible.
“Every 999 call we receive must be graded in order to ensure we respond appropriately – given the threat, harm and risk to the public. Our call handers ask a variety of questions to establish the full circumstances of the incident while radio agents assign officers to jobs. This would include descriptions of the weapons used, whether the offenders were on foot or in a vehicle, descriptions and details of any injuries – this information will allow us to assess the risk to anyone on scene and assign resources. These questions do not delay our response, but enhance our understanding of the incident so attending officers know what to look out for on the approach to locations.
“The call handler stayed on the phone with the caller until officers arrived, taking details and reassuring him that officers and an ambulance were on the way.
“Following the incident, the property was secured, with a police car parked at the property. Scenes of crime officers attended at the earliest possible opportunity to assess any forensic opportunities.
“When a detective attended to speak to the victim, the victim handed them part of a knife, which he had since found, and this was then seized.
“The detective also offered reassurance to the victim to explain that we do not believe they were personally targeted.”
Anyone with information contact police on 101.