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Three generations of same family targeted in terrifying gun raid

By Joanne Fleming

Published 18/04/2016

Josephine Joyce, her mother and daughter were confronted by gunmen in their home
Josephine Joyce, her mother and daughter were confronted by gunmen in their home

A victim of an armed robbery targeting three generations of the same family - including an 81-year-old woman - has told of the terrifying moment she had a gun pointed at her head.

Josephine Joyce said she forced herself to stay calm during the horrific ordeal.

Ms Joyce (49) said that by refusing to panic she hoped to save her life and that of her elderly mother and 25-year-old daughter.

All three were at the home they share at Glenfearna Gardens in Lagmore, Dunmurry, on Friday evening when masked men with guns forced entry.

Ms Joyce said she was watching TV in the room she shared with her elderly mother when she was alerted by a noise on the stairs.

"I had given mummy her medication and I turned down the TV a bit," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I heard a bit of a commotion, it was like running up the stairs. I heard my daughter Saoirse's voice and I thought 'something's going on'. I had a baton under the bed, perhaps because I'm here as a single parent.

"Quietly and slowly, I didn't panic, I picked the baton up and went on to the landing. There was a big fellow holding a gun looking over at me."

Ms Joyce said the gunman initially looked startled but that one of the three masked men quickly took control.

She said she then became frightened at noise coming from Saorise's room, later learning the men had dragged her daughter by her hair to the ground when she tried to shout out her bedroom window for help.

"I didn't know if they were going to hurt my daughter or rape her, I did not know," she added.

Ms Joyce said she appealed for them to leave Saoirse alone and told them she knew what it was they were looking for and that she could help.

"He came over and hit my neck with the gun," she said of one of the gunmen.

"I fell to the ground. My hands were tied behind me with cable ties. I heard them go to Saoirse: 'Where is it? Where is it?' It was a really aggressive voice. I knew it was my mum's money they were looking for.

"I said: 'What you are looking for is in the loft'."

Despite her fear, Ms Joyce said she focused on trying to help the gunmen locate the bag of money, even offering to charge Saoirse's iPad that they were using for light in the loft.

"I was afraid to turn my head," she said. "All I can remember is Saoirse's face. They had a gun to her. I said: 'Now you have got what you want let my daughter go and do not harm me or mummy'."

She said that one of the men then went into her mother's room for no reason but to "show himself".

"It was to scare the life out of her," she said. "He put his hands over her hands." Still tied up as the men eventually left the house, Ms Joyce made her way down the stairs to raise the alarm.

"I just remember I was out on the street squealing," she said.

Reflecting on her actions on the night, Ms Joyce said: "I had no other choice but to stay calm.

"When someone has a gun to your head they have your life in their hands."

The family have been advised not to disclose the amount of money stolen, but say it was "substantial".

Ms Joyce said she did not believe anyone local could be involved, but it was someone who knew about her mother's money.

They have appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

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