TWO YOUNG children were left traumatised after their parents were threatened by a gunman in their Hampshire home.

Richard and Belinda Lloyd believed they and their children were going to die when Paul Ashley brandished the imitation gun in the lounge of the Bartley house.

As he pulled the gun out and pointed it at Mrs Lloyd, she could see her 12-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter sat terrified on the stairs.

They had heard their mother’s screams and had come to see what was happening.

The ordeal has traumatised the Lloyd family who are angry that Ashley, a former school friend of Mr Lloyd, was only jailed for 20 months.

Speaking after the case, Mr Lloyd said: “I was rendered powerless in my own home. All I wanted to do was protect my family.

“I can protect them against a person, but I can’t protect them from bullets and that is what was so terrifying.

“He has robbed my children of being able to feel safe in their own home. They have been left traumatised.”

Winchester Crown Court heard how Ashley called on the family on April 21 after getting involved in a dispute between the Lloyds and their neighbours. Prosecutor Rachel Robertson said that Ashley first calmly told Mr Lloyd to send his two children upstairs.

Ms Robertson said Ashley then pulled the handgun from a back pocket.

The court was told that the gun was a black ballbearing Tanfoglio 1911 pistol, which looked like a real weapon.

After some time Ashley left but later returned. The family fled their home that evening, fearing for their lives.

Ashley returned a third time and the police were called.

Drink-driving When later arrested in his Hyundai in Shepherds Close by police he was three times the drink drive limit.

Ashley, a former car salesman, of Shepherds Close, Bartley, admitted two counts of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to threaten violence and one count of drink-driving.

James Newton-Price, mitigating, said it was a mystery why the father-of-two had behaved in such a way as he was a man of “more or less” good character.

He had gone to school with Mr Lloyd and they had played in a rock band together.

Mr Newton-Price said the only explanation was that Ashley was an alcoholic.

His condition was so bad that he is on the waiting list for a liver and spleen transplant.

Jailing Ashley for 20 months, Judge Jane Miller QC also gave him a month in jail on the drink driving charge, to run concurrently, and banned Ashley from driving for three years.

Speaking after the case, Mrs Lloyd told the Daily Echo how her husband bravely stepped between her and the gun to protect her and grabbed the gun so that it was pointing at him rather than her.

Mrs Lloyd added: “I thought I was going to die. I thought my family were going to die. I have never been so scared in my life.

“I could see my children through the stair gaps, my son looked terrified. He had seen the whole thing.

“I never thought someone could have the power to make me feel so helpless.

“I am now trying to piece my life together but I am scared to go out alone, I am on medication and I cannot sleep.

“The fact he has been given 20 months is an insult. My son has the same nightmares. Ashley has destroyed his innocence in childhood which should be a happy time.

“No 12-year-old should have to witness what he did and cry because he thought his mummy and daddy were going to die.

“I will never forgive Ashley, I can’t because he has robbed my family and I of too much.

Additional reporting by Melanie Adams.