Exclusive: Terrified girl, 8, watched as gran was attacked with knife before being kidnapped by robbers who stormed home
An elderly woman was robbed and attacked at her home in front of her granddaughter on Christmas Day before being kidnapped.The violent and traumatic attack was carried out by a gang of three thugs before she was bundled in the passenger seat of her own car and driven away.Gary Groves was jailed for 14 years

An elderly woman was robbed and attacked at her home in front of her granddaughter on Christmas Day before being kidnapped.

The violent and traumatic attack was carried out by a gang of three thugs before she was bundled in the passenger seat of her own car and driven away.

Gary Groves was jailed for 14 years on Tuesday for his part on the horrendous ordeal where the woman was subjected to – bringing the gang’s total jail time to 33 years.

A court heard how the trio barged into the victim’s home while she watched Coronation Street with her granddaughter on Christmas Day evening in 2019.

The woman went to answer the door after the bell rang, to be greeted by Sarah Howitt who pretended to need help.

Groves and Geoffrey Hayes then forced their way in to the home in Kirby, Liverpool, ransacking it for valuables whilst wielding a foot-long knife.

She was slashed across the ear and battered before one of her attackers shouted “you f***ng horrible b******” and “where’s the f***ing money?” as her eight-year-old granddaughter looked on in horror.

The terrified victim was then forced her into her own car – an Audi TT – before it was driven away by Hayes, Liverpool ECHO reports.

The car was then involved in a collision shortly afterwards, with the victim sustaining serious injuries.

Groves, 55, from Liverpool, was finally put behind bars over two years after his accomplices were jailed for their part in the callous crime.

Hayes, 47, was jailed for 14 and a half years in December 2020 alongside then-girlfriend Howitt, 42, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, who was imprisoned for four and a half years.

The court heard Hayes made the terrified eight-year-old show him where the victim kept her jewellery and car keys, before stealing sentimental items including the victim’s mum’s wedding ring.

She desperately fought him as she was dragged to the car boot and was punched again, her head hitting the car and showering the boot in blood.

Hayes then threw her into the car through the passenger door, got in the driver’s seat, and sped off as his accomplices fled.

The victim described the car hitting other vehicles and the kerb before Hayes crashed in Melling, flipping the Audi over.

Passers-by rushed to help, as Hayes climbed over his victim to escape, but she yelled: ‘Help me, help me. Keep him away from me, he’s kidnapped me and beat me up.

‘Don’t let him hit me again, please don’t let him hit me again.’

She was covered in blood and witnesses chased after Hayes and held him down, until police, paramedics and firefighters arrived.

A police dog found a black Under Armour glove he had thrown into a garden and another one in bushes.

Hayes was searched and as he was turned over, jewellery fell out of his jacket. More jewellery and the knife was found strewn inside the Audi.

Hayes had cut her left ear exposing cartilage and she suffered cuts and bruises to her face and scalp, seven broken ribs and a black eye.

She needed eight stitches to the face and two to her ear. Hayes was also treated at hospital, before he was interviewed and gave no comment.

The precise motive for the robbery was unknown.

Detective Inspector James Rotheram, of Merseyside Police, said: ‘I’m delighted that Groves is now facing a lengthy prison sentence and he will have plenty of time to reflect on his appalling actions that night.

‘We were always determined to put all three people before the courts, no matter how long it took, so it’s a relief that Groves has now been removed from our streets.

‘To be assaulted in your own home, especially on Christmas Day, must have been incredibly traumatic.

‘I hope that the family can now take comfort from the fact all three people involved in this incident are now behind bars.

‘Our message to offenders involved in robberies is clear – there is no hiding place. We will use all evidence available to us to track you down and put you before the courts.’

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