In Their Own Words – Silent Nights
It has only been a few weeks since the Festive season, but here at In Their Own Words we have received calls from those who, through one way or another, shared in the experience known as Silent Night – so we wanted to share some with you. We start with Aurora, and what happened when she was sorting out some washing at home on the 27th…
I had managed to sort out the dry laundry and took it up to the rooms, leaving Kyle and Karen watching a film. They’re twelve year old twins, and like to dress somewhat alike – Kyle was wearing a brown jumper, blue jeans and white socks, while Karen had a brown cardigan over a white top, jeans and socks.
Like I said, nothing out of the ordinary, and all I could hear as I moved around upstairs was the television playing. I didn’t even hear any doors opening and closing – if I had, I may have called for help and stayed upstairs, but I really had no warning until I got down and looked in the front room.
Ad I did so, my kids were sitting back to back on the floor, with one of the tinsel hangings from the wall now holding them together as they looked at me. That wasn’t the worst thing though – that was the strips of silver tape that covered their mouths, and the white zip ties that held their wrists and ankles together.
I had to admit, it took me a few minutes to process what was happening – which was enough time for whoever had done this to come up behind me, and put something against my back. Very quietly, he – it was a male voice – told me to lie face down on the couch, and put my hands behind my back.
Well, I had no choice, did I? I did as he asked, and tried not to panic as I felt the plastic strip around my wrists, heard the rasping sound as whoever this was pulled it, and my wrists were forced together. I was wearing a long sleeved top with a black t-shirt over it, so at least my wrists had some form of protection, while my long red bedsocks protected my ankles as they were secured.
I was then rolled over, to see a young man with a scarf over the lower half of his face. He told me to remain calm, and then pressed some duct tape firmly over my mouth, the kids watching as he did so.
All I could do was nod at them, and watch as he left the room. He didn’t come back in – when my husband came back an hour later and freed us, I found out he had go the tape and zip ties from our garage, and had taken my purse. It looks as if it was just pure bad luck on our part – but it wasn’t how we expected our day to go…
While in the case of Aurora, it was an opportunistic thief, for Carol her experience turned out to be more premeditated…
Christmas had come and gone, and it was that strange period between the celebrations for that and the celebrations for New Year. My flatmate Jill and I were literally slobbing it out in out flat. I was wearing a red top with a V-necked front and a little white panel at my chest, green jeans and red and white striped socks pulled up to my knees, while Carol had on a white dress with a wrap front, black leggings and white socks.
Anyway, as I say we were relaxing, not doing very much, when I offered to go and make some coffee, and Jill went to see who was ringing the front door bell. It was only when I turned round I realised something was wrong.
Jill was looking at me, her hands behind her back and her mouth covered by two strips of tape in the shape of an X – one red, one green. Behind her was a woman dressed in black, with a balaclava over her head, looking at me with clear hate filled blue eyes.
The fact she had a gun in her gloved hand was also very persuasive, as she told me to put down what I was holding and put my hands behind my back. Jill could only whimper as she was pulled towards me, and forced to watch as the woman took a roll of red tape, and secured my wrists together.
She then took a sponge ball from her pocket, and told me to open my mouth. That at least explained why Jill could not say anything, as she forced the sponge ball into my mouth, and when I had closed my lips pressed a strip of the red tape over them, diagonally from left to right.
She then put that roll in her pocket, took out a roll of green tape, and pressed a strip over my mouth in the opposite direction, before she marched us at gunpoint into the front room. As we stood there, she cleared the papers from the coffee table onto the floor with a sweep of her arms, and made us sit back to back on it. We watched as she taped our ankles together with the green tape, and then went to the tree.
I remember Jill mumbling “whtssgnn” to me, but I had no idea – all I could do was watch as she stripped the fairy lights from it, and used them it tie our upper bodies together so that we could only move a little.
It was when she plugged them in and the lights twinkled on us, and she began singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” that I realised who was doing this – and why. I had just started dating a new boy, and he had told me his old girlfriend was a little possessive…
Well, it looked as if that was an understatement, as she took photo after photo of both of us, saying how she was going to put them on Facebook and humiliate me. Thing is, she hadn’t realised she was actually doing it on Facebook Live – so when my boyfriend ran in fifteen minutes later, she was taken completely by surprise.
And then by the police…
For Zoe and her son, it was the fact they had decided to have a drink in the wrong café that led to their story…
Bobby had got quite a bit of money for his Christmas, so on the Thursday after I took him into town to have a look at a few things. We managed to ensure he had spent all his money, and I suggested we go to a café his cousin runs, to get a drink before we headed home. I was wearing a blue sweater with white snow dots and a red picture of Holly on the front, jeans and ankle boots, while Bobby had on a green jumper over a red shirt, jeans and trainers.
It’s off a little alley, and right next door to a pawnbrokers – which, on reflection, is why they targeted her, and why the sign on the door said closed when we got there. But she’s my cousin, so I went in with Bobby anyway.
That was what I heard my niece say as Bobby stared at her, sitting on the floor, wearing her usual blue polo shirt, black leggings and trainers – but she had silver tape over her mouth, and tape wrapped round her legs and body, making her look like a ball.
“Shit – I thought you locked the front door!”
As for me, my sight was taken by the two men wearing stocking masks who come out of the back, one pointing a shotgun at me as the other went and locked the front door.
“You two,” he then said as he looked at me and Bobby, “hands behind your backs – NOW!”
“Is this a robbery,” Bobby said as the man pulled his hands behind his back, and I heard the sound of duct tape coming off a roll as his wrists were taped together.
“Yes it is – so shut the hell up and do as you’re told,” the man with the gun said as my own wrists were taped together, and we were made to sit back to back on a tall stool, before the man taped our ankles together.
“We need it tie them together,” he said as he pressed tape over our mouths, “but I’m out of tape.”
“Well, use these,” the armed man said as he pulled a set of lights down from the wall and out of the socket, and threw them over. Which is how we ended up tied together with a set of wires and lights around our necks and upper bodies, wondering what the hell was going on as the two men went out the back.
I held Bobby’s hand to offer him some comfort, because the tape and the fear was topping me from saying anything at all. The men never came back – it was only when the police called to answer the silent alarm in the pawnbrokers that they discovered it had been robbed, and then found us. They had surprised my cousin an hour before we walked in on them, and taped her up while they broke through the connecting fence at the back…
One of the most well-known robbers in the country at the moment is undoubtedly the man – or woman – dubbed the Games Player. Nicky and her two daughters were surprised by him on December 30th…
We had just got up and I was giving the girls a late breakfast in the kitchen when the back door opened, and he came in. He was exactly as they describe him in the reports – black jumper, trousers and shoes, black leather gloves, and a stocking pulled down over his head.
Why were we late up? We’d been to the Panto at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle the night before, and not got back to Pelaw until after midnight. My husband had already gone to work at the bank while we had a lie-in.
Let me tell you what we were wearing – I had on a white t-shirt with a picture of a penguin on the front, checked pyjama bottoms and pink slippers with a tiger print front. Joy, my oldest girl, is eight, and had her blonde hair in two pigtails. She was wearing a long sleeved red top and candy striped tights. Penny is four, and had her hair in a ponytail, wearing purple pyjamas with pictures of horses and toys on them.
Well, as you can imagine, they took us by surprise, and then he said that my husband had booked this as a surprise game for the three of us to play. Well, I knew at once what was going on, so I told the girls we were going to use this not only to play a game, but also to take a photo to thank those who had got them presents with.
They both agreed to that, as I suggested we finish our breakfast, and then all go and sit in the front room for the photographs. Joy asked why he had his head covered, and the Games Player said it was because he was playing at being a robber – and robbers disguise themselves.
When we went into the room, he asked how we were going to pose for the photographs. I looked at the girls, and said we were going to be tied up by the man, but we would be together, and with our mouths covered with some tape we could look really funny. I knew this was going to happen anyway, but I didn’t want them to be scared.
Thankfully, the girls agreed, so they both sat either side of me on the couch as I sat on the floor, and crossed my legs. As I did so, I saw him take off a rucksack and open it, and take out some lengths of green rope – one of which he used to tie my ankles together, so that I could not move them apart. He then looked at the girls, and told them to put their hands together in front of themselves – before he tied their wrists together with more of the green rope.
He then asked Penny to sit in front of me, which she did so, looking up and giggling as I reached down and kissed her forehead, while the masked man tied her ankles and legs together. I then wrapped my arms round her and hugged her as he tied my wrists to my arms.
He then asked Joy where she wanted to be, and she said she’d sit next to me, slipping off the chair and putting her head on my shoulder as he tied her ankles and legs together, then tied her ankles to the ropes round my legs, and her wrists to the rope round her legs below her knees.
SO there we were – tied up, and tied to each other, as he turned the television on and put it onto CBeebies. I then saw him take a roll of duct tape from his bag, and tear a strip off, so I told the girls we’d make a game of it by trying to talk to each other.
He did me first, pressing the silver taper firmly over my mouth, and then gagged Penny – she looked up at me and smiled, the tape crinkling as I kissed her forehead again with my taped lips. Once Joy had her mouth covered, she rubbed her cheek on my shoulder, and I kissed her as well, before we settled down to watch the television.
Penny actually fell asleep in my arms, but it was a couple of hours before my husband ran into the room and untied us – having been tipped off to our situation…
Finally for today, we hear from Louise, who with her husband had a very different Hogmanay celebration…
The kids had gone to spend the night with their grandparents, which meant Jock and I had the house to ourselves. Not that we were going out – rather, we were looking forward to a quiet night in.
I’ll tell you how quiet we wanted it to be – no lights on save for some candles, a bottle of whisky, and good music on the stereo. I had on a pink sweatshirt and blue jeans, with hose on my legs, while Jock was wearing a grey checked shirt with dark jeans and bare feet.
So there we were, sitting and having a drink, when we were rather rudely interrupted – by two women, wearing hoodies and track suit bottoms, and both carrying knives.
Well, Jock stood up to play the strongman – and then sat down again when one of the girls said something “sit the F*** down or we stick that pig of a woman you call your wife.” He glared at both of them, and then sat back down as one of them pulled from her pocket a roll of red packing tape.
She quickly walked behind Jock, and wrapped the red tape tightly round his arms an upper body, before making him sit on the floor with his knees bent. I had to watch – I had no choice, the other girl had walked round and put her blade against my throat – as she wound the tape round his wrists, and then taped them down to his legs, before she taped his ankles together.
She then wrapped the tape tightly round his head, covering his mouth as his protests got quieter and quieter – before it was my turn. I started to shake as my own arms were taped to my sides, above and below my chest, and then I was made to sit back to back with him.
At least I knew he was there, as she taped me in the same way as him – and gagged me in the same way as well, before one of them sat and watched us as the other ran up the stairs. We could both hear her searching the upstairs room, but there wasn’t a bloody thing I could do.
Eventually, we saw her look in, and then they both left, as Jock and I started to try and struggle free. It seemed to be hopeless, but after some time I managed to get my wrists free, and a short while later I was able to shuffle over to where my sewing box was – and the scissors that were inside.
That’s all form In Their Own Words for this week – next time, more historical tales of family perils. Until then…