Two heartless burglars have been jailed after a pensioner suffered an epileptic fit when intruders threatened her and her elderly husband with a knife.
Shaun Grieves, 33, and Gary Fee, 43, have been jailed for a total of 24 years for the terrifying raid in Gateshead and a string of other burglaries.
A court was told how the pair had worked together to commit a number of thefts and burglaries between February and March 2018.
Police had received reports of cars being broken in to and vehicles themselves being stolen after burglaries in the area.
Those incidents culminated in the burglary on March 1 that saw an 81-year-old man and 79-year-old woman targeted in their home on McErlane Square in Pelaw.
The elderly male victim was reading a newspaper in his kitchen when two masked men forced entry to the building and pulled out a large kitchen knife.
They ordered him to hand over money before forcing him upstairs to a bedroom where his wife was asleep.
Both victims pleaded for the men to stop at which point the elderly woman suffered a suspected epileptic fit because of the stress.
The men ransacked the property, cut the telephone cable so they could not call for help and stole hundreds of pounds in cash before leaving the elderly couple shaking in fear.
An investigation was launched and mobile phone data placed Grieves and Fee at the scene of the burglary.
They were arrested and found in possession of a haul of goods stolen during raids in the month prior to the terrifying attack.
It later emerged that Grieves knew the elderly couple as their son was married to one of his family members, suggesting it was a targeted attack.
However, both men denied being involved in the raid before they were convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court in December.
Now Grieves, of no fixed abode, has been jailed for 13 years and Fee, of Westbourne Avenue, Gateshead, jailed for 11 years during a sentencing hearing at the same court on Wednesday (January 8).
Detective Constable Glen Page, of Northumbria Police’s Central Burglary Team, said: “This was despicable offending that has had a profound impact on the victims.
“It would have been terrifying to be held at knife point by two masked men in their own home and in their own words, they have been living in fear.
“What I believe makes this offending even worse is that Grieves knew the victims personally and deliberately targeted them because they were elderly and vulnerable.
“We have witnessed first-hand the aftermath of this burglary and we have been determined to secure justice for all the victims of their crime.
“I am satisfied that they will now spend a long time behind bars and I hope that brings some comfort to this couple, and all those others targeted by these men.”
In a victim impact statement read during the sentencing hearing, the 79-year-old victim said: “Our lives have changed and I now do not feel safe in my home.
“My family have been really supportive and I am extremely grateful but I still find it hard to come to terms that a person I know was the person who carried out this crime.
“I am 79 and my husband is 81. We are no threat to anyone and have never really come to terms with what happened. I am struggling to move on and will never ever forget this.”
Grieves and Fee had each denied 13 offences but after a trial they were both convicted of the aggravated burglary relating to the elderly couple.
Grieves was also convicted of three counts of handling stolen goods and three counts of theft of number plates. He was acquitted of four counts of burglary and two counts of theft of a motor vehicle.
Fee was also convicted of one count of handling stolen goods and one count of theft of number plates. He was acquitted of the remaining 10 charges.