Daniel Wood (pictured), 39, says he was left fearing for his life after attackers, dressed mostly in black with their faces obscured, posed as armed police and broke into his property on December 4, 2017
A launderette owner has told a court axe-wielding masked assailants threatened to cut off his head and feet during a break-in.
Daniel Wood, 39, was left fearing for his life after attackers, dressed mostly in black with their faces obscured, posed as armed police and broke into his property on December 4, 2017.
Basildon Crown Court heard how the father-of-three, who lives with his fiancee, Claire, and children above Baylee’s Launderette in Grays, Essex, was in his living room when he heard a noise.
The court heard how he had stored up to £2,800 in 10 and 20 pound notes in his wardrobe in the run-up to Christmas to buy gifts for his children, aged five to 17 – money which was later stolen.
He was alerted to the break-in when his older child said ‘did you hear that’, at which point he stood up and heard a man shouting ‘armed police, armed police’, he told the court.
Within moments he said he was wrestled to the ground and had his hands cable-tied behind his back.
He told the court: ‘There was one about six foot, a couple of smaller ones, all of a sudden they were there, bang, and as I lay down I realise there were loads there.
‘All of a sudden, one’s on the back of me. After that happened, one of them locked all the windows, locked all the blinds… we were locked in.’
He added: ‘They were screaming violence, ‘get on the floor now, armed police’, that’s exactly how it was. From start to finish, it was aggression.’
He continued: ‘As I laid on the floor I just see two axes, a hammer, two handguns.’
He told his partner to ‘do what they say’ as the attackers ushered her and the children into another room.
Mr Wood said: ‘They pushed me upstairs into bedroom two, started to attack me with an hammer, I’m screaming, managed to break the cable ties off, grabbed a bedsheet and they started screaming ‘where’s the money, where’s the money, under the floorboards?’ and I told them I ain’t got floorboards, it’s a tiled floor’.
Helpless, Mr Wood said he wrapped himself up in a bedsheet to defend himself as he was being ‘beaten to death with hammers’ with three other men in the room.
Mr Wood, who broke free from his cable ties, managed to fight back and tackle Paul Roberton who was gravely injured in the struggle (Robertson, pictured on his wedding day)
‘One of them pulled the bedsheet back and said ‘I’ll chop your head off and I won’t lose a night’s sleep over it’,’ he told jurors.
The attackers then moved him to another bedroom where his fiancee Claire and two children were – at which point he realised his jewellery and cash stored in the wardrobe had already been taken.
An attacker pulled out a gun and pointed it at Mr Wood, before turning it on his then four-year-old son, Daniel.
‘I thought they was gonna shoot the little boy’, Mr Wood told the court.
Mr Wood was then taken into his living room, where he was told to get on the floor.
‘One of them cable tied me again and one of them tried to chop my feet of with the axe.’
Shaken, he gestured to the back of his ankles in the witness box, where he said the attack left ‘chop marks’.
But Mr Wood, who broke free from his cable ties, managed to fight back and tackle Paul Roberston who was gravely injured in the struggle.
‘He managed to jump up from the floor, knocking the handgun out of armed raider Paul Robertson’s hand, then started wrestling with him to get the axe off him,’ jurors heard.
‘One then shouted ‘police’. It may have been because there were blue Christmas lights flashing in one of the windows and it may have confused them.’
Robertson, 39, suffered serious wounds to his wrists and head and died at the scene.
The police arrived and he realised one of the attackers was at the bottom of the stairs, dead. He was later identified as Paul Robertson, 39.
Mr Wood was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released.
Defendants Michael Williams and and Christopher Salvador deny aggravated burglary and possession of an imitation firearm during the time of an offence.
Mr Wood denied being a drug dealer during cross examination after lawyer Kyri Argyropoulos, for Mr Williams, put to him that one of the attackers left the premises with a small holdall full of ‘smelly cannabis’, also known as skunk.
Mr Wood dismissed the claim but added that he and his partner would occasionally smoke cannabis.
The businessman, who admitted to using different names over the years, including ‘Tony’ and ‘Danny Wash’ also denied changing his name in line with drug dealer practice.
The defendants, who were both in court, are in custody.
The trial continues.
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