AN elderly couple said they thought they were going to die when a machete-wielding gang broke into their South Tyneside home.
The terrifying ordeal for David Paul, 66, and his partner Kathleen O’Connor, 60, began as they watched TV in Mr Paul’s bungalow at Hillside, The Lonnen, South Shields, and heard a loud banging at the front door.
On opening it, Mr Paul, a retired shipyard worker, was threatened by three masked men, one of whom was carrying an 18in machete.
Today, it emerged the attack on Tuesday night brought fresh turmoil for the couple.
Mrs O’Connor was planning to attend an inquest into the death of her grandson, Darren O’Connor, who died in police custody in July 2010, aged 19.
“It was the last thing we needed – the week has been hard enough for us,” said Mr Paul, who sustained a cut above his head after being punched by an assailant.
Their ordeal began at about 8.15pm on Tuesday.
One of the three raiders, who wore ski masks and scarves, ran into a bedroom, while a second took out a machete from his coat.
Mr Paul was punched in the head, with his attacker kicking out and taking an internal door off its hinges.
Mr Paul said: “I was shouting at them to get out, and then I saw one of them with a knife shouting ‘We’re not frightened of anyone’.
“It was a knife with about an 18in blade, like they use in the jungle.
“I shouted for Kathleen to get a neighbour to ring the police and was punched in the face.
“I had my glasses on, and the force left me with a cut above my eye. They were only here for a few minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.
“I’ve lived here for 13 years and it’s a lovely quiet area. I don’t know why I was targeted. I can only assume they got the wrong address.
“There’s nothing here for them to pinch. The one with the machete had wild eyes. It looked like he was on drugs.”
Mrs O’Connor added: “It was completely terrifying. When I saw the knife, I thought David was going to die. ”
Mr Paul plans to have a panic alarm fitted at his home.
He said: “I can’t imagine they will come back, but you can’t take any chances.”
The thieves made off, one on a small bike, towards The Lonnen.
The first man was wearing a black coat and ski-mask.
The second was in his 30s, wearing a blue hooded top and grey tracksuit bottoms.
The third was wearing a blue coat, a black woollen hat and a black scarf covering his face. All three were white.
It is thought they may have also been with another man, wearing a fluorescent jacket.
Anyone who may have seen any of the men around the time of the raid, should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.