Gateshead: Pair jailed after woman, 79, has epileptic fit during break-in at her home

Two men have been jailed for a total of 24 years after a pensioner one of them knew suffered an epileptic fit when they threatened her in bed with a knife.

Shaun Grieves, 33, and Gary Fee, 43, worked together to break into homes and cars and steal vehicles between February and March 2018 in Gateshead, Northumbria.

Their spree ended with the burglary on 1 March of an 81-year-old man and 79-year-old woman, who Grieves knew, in their home in the district of Pelaw.

The man was reading a newspaper in the kitchen when two masked men forced themselves into 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 sleeping.

As the couple pleaded for the men to stop, the woman suffered a suspected epileptic fit because of the stress.

Grieves and Fee cut the telephone cables so the couple could not call for help and ransacked their home, stealing hundreds of pounds in cash before leaving the pair shaking in fear.

Mobile phone data placed Grieves and Fee at the scene and they were arrested and found in possession of a haul of goods stolen during raids in the month before the attack.

It later emerged Grieves knew the couple because their son was married to one of his relatives, suggesting it was a targeted attack.

Both men denied involvement in the aggravated burglary, but were convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court in December before being sentenced on Wednesday.

In a witness statement, the 79-year-old woman said their "lives have changed" and she does not feel safe in her home.

"I still find it hard to come to terms that a person I know was the person who carried out this crime," she said.

"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."

Detective Constable Glen Page, of Northumbria Police, said: "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."

Grieves, of no fixed abode, and Fee, of Westbourne Avenue, Gateshead, each denied 13 offences but were jailed for 13 years and 11 years, respectively.

As well as the aggravated burglary, Grieves was 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.