Robbers threatened to slit the throats of children

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

Two robbers were each jailed for 12 years for holding a family hostage at their home in Sheffield, threatening to slit the throats of their two children and to cut the pregnant mother’s unborn baby out of her stomach.

Ajay Rowding and Kallum Flowers, both aged 23, broke into the property in Mortomley Close, High Green, while Clare and Steven Foster were inside with their daughter, aged 15, and son, nine.

Armed with a crow bar and bread knife, the duo and another man, all wearing masks, forced the four onto the kitchen floor while they ransacked the home in an ordeal lasting almost an hour.

The family was also threatened with being tied up overnight and the children having their fingers cut off.

Rowding, of Fife Street, Wincobank, and Flowers, of Gloucester Street, Broomhall, pleaded guilty to robbery and were each jailed for 12 years.

Once released they will spend the duration of their sentence and an extra five years on licence, meaning that they could be recalled to prison if they fall foul of the law again.

After being handed their sentence, one of the defendants hurled a cup of water across the courtroom from the dock, showering Judge Peter Kelson QC.

The court was told that the motive for the robbery was Mr and Mrs Foster having cannabis plants growing in their home.

The judge said the attack highlighted the dangers of the drugs trade.

“The police recognise that in South Yorkshire growing cannabis in houses in carrying in its wake a large amount of serious organised crime. One of these is the infliction of serious violence or the threat of it to growers of cannabis.”

Mark McKone, prosecuting, said the raiders stole hydroponics equipment used to grow the cannabis, a Hyundai car, a transit van, two mobile phones, four flat screen televisions, cash, jewellery, clothing and a games console, worth a total of £27,960.

He said: “Mrs Foster says she has never been so scared - she thought her children were going to be killed or harmed.”

Rowding had 27 previous convictions, for offences including assault, burglary and robbery, and Flowers had 22, including affray, burglary and assaulting a police officer.

The robbers were traced when police found Mr Foster’s stolen van parked in Oaks Fold Road, Shiregreen, with the engine running.

Flower’s partner’s brother, Matthew Fothergill, aged 31, of Sycamore Road, Ecclesfield, was found asleep inside the vehicle. He admitted handling stolen goods last month was jailed for three years.