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I thought I would die, says Belfast house raid victim Iris Boyle (90)

By Cate McCurry

Published 27/01/2016

A 90-year-old woman has spoken of the terrifying moment she came face-to-face with three men ransacking her home.

Iris Boyle, who lives alone, thought she was going to die after the gang broke into her house on Belfast's Skegoneill Avenue on Monday. It was the second time the property - where the grandmother has lived for 50 years - had been targeted.

The burglars are believed to have left empty-handed after using a screwdriver to unlock the back door and searching the sitting room, where Mrs Boyle was watching TV. The raid has left the pensioner too frightened to get a proper night's sleep.

"I could hear loud noises but I thought it was people out the front of my house, because I have bad hearing and the sitting room door was closed," she said.

"But then it went on and on and I went out to see what it was. When I went to get up, this figure came in. At first I thought it was my son, but he never spoke to me.

"He started lifting things in the room and looked all around. Then another one came in. He was slim, and I think he had a jumper on. Their faces were partially covered.

"When I saw the first big man come in, I thought I was in for it. My nerves were a wreck. I thought I was going to die - I thought that was the end. My heart was going and I was shaking. I was so afraid."

After ransacking the home one of the gang members helped Mrs Boyle into her seat. "Before they left, the thin one took my elbow and helped me into my seat and then away they went," she said.

"They didn't speak to me or harm me - I was so glad they didn't. I was a bundle of nerves. I couldn't speak to them. All I could do was watch them."

After contacting the police Mrs Boyle stood at her front door and attempted to flag down passing traffic, but no one stopped.

She eventually managed to contact a neighbour who came to her aid.

"My neighbour came into my house and rang the police again for me because I had been waiting for so long," Mrs Boyle added.

"We went up the stairs to check on the rooms and found that they had the front bedroom wrecked. There was stuff lying everywhere.

"I don't know what they wanted, but I think they might have been after drugs.

"I was lucky that they didn't harm me. I couldn't understand that, though, because you always hear about elderly people getting attacked.

"I haven't slept right since it happened and I'm so nervous being in the house now."

Detectives are appealing for information over the burglary and have urged anyone with information to contact them.

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