9:51am Tuesday 7th August 2012
By John Hoskins
A YOUNG mum had clumps of her hair pulled out and teeth loosened when two masked men, one brandishing a gun, burst into her home while her baby played just yards away.
Louise Henning was subjected to the terrifying ordeal after opening her front door to what she believed were gas board workers, Southampton Crown Court heard.
But instead the Hampshire nurse was confronted by the pair – one slim, the other stocky – in fluorescent jackets, their faces half-covered with snoods, who pushed her back inside.
One put his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming.
The court heard how the mum of two was wrestled to the floor as she tried to push the men away.
Prosecutor Nicholas Tucker said: “She was terrified they were going to rape her while her 11-month-old son sat in a nearby room playing with his toys. She fought with the man, scratching his face and neck with her fingernails.”
The court heard how she then bit his gloved hand so hard that as he pulled his finger away, he loosened three of her teeth and she started bleeding from the mouth. Mrs Henning then spat blood over one of her attackers’ shoes, hoping to mark him with her DNA – and she succeeded.
Jurors heard how the stocky man held her down on the floor as his accomplice demanded to know the whereabouts of the couple’s safe, fitted in their bedroom but unused for some time.
Though she told them they had no money, the slim man rummaged through kitchen cupboards and then shouted that he was going to shoot Mrs Henning.
Mr Tucker continued: “Mrs Henning was not convinced the gun was real but was understandably terrified at what the men might do.
“By this time, the baby had crawled into the hallway, where his mother was being restrained. She tried to pick him up but such was her terror her hands had been locked up and she couldn’t.”
Mrs Henning heard the thin man rummaging through her belongings upstairs before he came down and again demanded to know where the money was.
“She rather feistily called him an idiot – she had already explained there was no money in the house,” said Mr Tucker.
She was then taken into the kitchen, where the slim man washed her hands under a tap because he was worried she had got his DNA under her nails.
At that point her husband, Luke, a self-employed builder, phoned her but one of the intruders grabbed it.
The pair told Mrs Henning to lie on the floor, then left. “She picked up the phone and tried to call her husband, but such was her shock and fear it took her several attempts to get through.”
The police were called to their home in Testwood Lane, Totton , and paramedics treated her for injuries including loosened teeth, sore ribs and clumps of hair pulled out in the struggle.
The couple found the main bedroom had been ransacked and £2,000 had been taken. Mrs Henning told police she had no idea why they had been targeted – they had no connections with the criminal fraternity and were not particularly well-off.
Mr Tucker said police had a lead from CCTV which captured a white van with distinctive marks the day before the burglary and on the day itself in the area.
Two days later armed police arrested Matthew Harfield as he drove a van through Eastleigh . Inside were two high-visibility jackets similar to those described by Mrs Henning and her blood was later found on his shoes.
His alleged accomplice Jamie Dalton was arrested 11 days later.
Mr Tucker said Dalton signed in at Southampton Magistrates’ Court less than an hour after the burglary. His DNA was found under the victim’s nails.
Harfeld, 35, of no fixed address and Dalton, 21, of Kingsdown Way, Southampton, deny aggravated burglary and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
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