News

Thugs threatened to rip out 14-year-old girl's teeth with pliers during Christmas eve raid

Thugs threatened to rip out 14-year-old girl's teeth with pliers during Christmas eve raid

A teenage girl and her family were terrorised by two masked men who burst into their home during an horrific Christmas robbery.

During the shocking ordeal, the intruders gripped a 14-year-old girl's lips with wire cutters and told her terrified mother that they would "cut them off and pull out her teeth one by one" if she failed to follow their instructions.

She was also forced to walk barefoot through broken glass while her mother and brother were also locked in an en-suite bathroom.

Mum of three Amy Tsoi (42) was at home with her daughter Celine (14) and son Gordon (7) at Johnstown Manor, Naas in Co Kildare, when the horrifying events unfolded.

Speaking on behalf of her traumatised mother and sister on Christmas eve, the family's eldest daughter Elaine (20) said the thieves left a trail of destruction in her home and even stole her little brother's pocket money.

"It is just so appalling. At one stage my seven-year-old brother had to calm my mother down," she said.

"He had to say to her, 'Please mum, stop or the men will kill you'. He doesn't want to be left alone since then".

The drama unfolded on Wednesday night when the youngsters in the house realised their Wi-Fi connection had failed.

Gardaí believe the thugs responsible for the attack cut all the phone lines to the family home - a tactic used when a house has a monitored alarm.

Investigators believe the house may have been under surveillance by the intruders prior to the event.

The family runs the nearby Victoria Garden Chinese restaurant and their father Charles had  just changed and left for work. "About 15 minutes later is when it all started," Elaine said. "My sister was up in her bedroom and heard talking in the back garden.

"She put no pass on it and just thought it was the neighbour. A few minutes later she heard a loud smash. It was the glass in the back patio door.

"We had some bricks lying around the garden as we had built a fish pond earlier in the years and they picked one up and smashed the glass.

"The funny thing is I think the door was unlocked."

Once the men - who were armed with a screw driver and wire cutters - had gained entry, they stormed towards Mrs Tsoi and grabbed the phone from her hand.

Upon hearing the commotion, brave Celine rushed down the stairs to the aid of her mother but was met by one of the masked men, who was dressed in black, on the stairs.

"They just grabbed her," said Elaine. "My mother was very upset, and they were screaming at her for the money, but she doesn't speak English all that well.

"My sister tried to tell her what they wanted. But they put the pliers to her top lip and gripped it. Then they said they would cut it and pull out her teeth one by one if she didn't give them the money."

The terrified mother then handed over her purse, which contained a few hundred euro.

Unsatisfied by this, they marched Ms Tsoi, Celine and Gordon, who had been playing in the living room, upstairs.

"They sat them all on the bed in the master bedroom and took a pillowcase from one of the pillows and started putting jewellery and valuables in it.

"They were even throwing in empty jewellery boxes. There was also a small safe there with a small amount of money and some watches that my late grandfather had left to my dad. Not worth a lot, but of great sentimental value, and they took them," said Elaine.

The shaken family were then taken from bedroom to bedroom while the men pulled the rooms apart looking for cash.

In Celine's bedroom, they took a small sum of money that she was saving to buy Christmas presents for friends and family.

They also took €40 from young Gordon's piggy bank - money that he had also earmarked for gifts - and his prized PlayStation.

The family were then led back into the master bedroom where Mrs Tsoi and Gordon were locked into the en-suite toilet.

"My mother was really terrified now because they kept Celine outside. The men broke the handle off the window so it couldn't be opened.

"My mum got really afraid. She thought the men might rape Celine. They were two big, big guys who sounded like Travellers.

"She started screaming in the hope that the neighbour might hear and come to help, but one of the men came in and punched her in the head twice and knocked her to the ground and locked the door again.

"She was crying, and my little brother said, 'Please mum, stop, or they will come back and kill you."

Meanwhile, Celine was led through the house by the raiders. The courageous young teen was forced to walk through the broken glass on the kitchen floor so it would be difficult for her to run.

"Her feet were cut really badly; there is blood all over the house. They eventually brought her up to the bathroom and locked her in as well," added Elaine.

"After about 15 minutes they managed to escape and called for help. But they are all still so scared. None of them wants to be left alone."

Elaine's father Charles appealed for people to be extra vigilant in their homes this Christmas.

"It is just so terrible what has happened. It is important to tell this story to let people know to be careful.

"I always thought this was a safe area to leave women and children in their homes. But now people must know that it is not."

The family's terrifying ordeal came to light as President Michael D Higgins signed into law four new bills, including the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015.

The new legislation provides for stronger sentences for repeat offenders - including the right to refuse bail to burglary defendants who have previous convictions for the same offence. An estimated 75pc of burglaries are carried out by repeat offenders.

Adam Cullen