Robbery haunts us even a year on, says Doncaster couple

Adrian and Vicki Welch, of Spring Lane, Sprotbrough. Picture: Marie Caley D5575MC
Adrian and Vicki Welch, of Spring Lane, Sprotbrough. Picture: Marie Caley D5575MC

The whole terrifying ordeal lasted just five minutes, but it has changed the lives of this family forever.

Just over a year ago, two masked men raided Adrian Welch’s home and pointed knives at his wife, Vicki, and two of their children as they demanded cash and jewellery.

The children - Harry, now 12, and Ruby, seven - had been playing in their garden when they were made to lie face-down on the grass with their arms behind their heads. Nobody has ever been charged and the family is often haunted by the thought that the thugs could still be at large.

“The police have tried their hardest but these people are still out there,” says Adrian, a high-profile Doncaster businessman with his own emergency glazing company.

“The main point is we want people to realise how it still affects our family life.”

At about 5.45pm on September 7, 2012, the horror unfolded.

Vicki, 41, recalls: “Adrian and I were having tea, Lucy was in her bedroom doing homework and Harry and Ruby were playing in the garden. I can remember Adrian was looking for some vinegar to go on his dinner when he just said, ‘One of Harry’s friends has got a funny mask on out there’.

“I said that he didn’t have any friends over but he said, “Yes he has, he’s just gone past with a Spiderman mask on. I went outside and Adrian followed me and these two men had appeared with knives and masks on - one with a Spiderman mask and the other with a khaki scarf over his face.”

Vicki ran towards her children but she was stopped by one of the masked men, who threatened her, Ruby and Harry with his blade.

Meanwhile, the second robber forced Adrian into the house.

“He was demanding money and jewellery,” says Adrian, 45.

“Being reputable people we don’t keep a lot of cash in the house and I certainly don’t know what jewellery they’d be interested in. When I said I didn’t have any jewellery, that’s when he started hitting me.”

Lucy, now 15, was upstairs when she heard her mum’s screams. She crept out onto the balcony and dropped to the floor when she saw the petrifying scenes below her. Laying flat on her stomach, she called the police.

“I looked up and saw her,” says Vicki.

“The guy who had me saw where I was looking and said, ‘If there’s anyone up there, I’m going to do this and that’, making all sorts of threats.”

The robbers had arrived in a black Audi but it sped off when the drama began to unfold. The men got away with a quantity of cash by fleeing through the fields next to the family’s home, in Spring Lane, Sprotbrough.

They were picked up by a white Ford Transit van as they headed towards Long Lane and were dropped off near the Sun Inn pub in Barnsley Road, Scawsby.

Police arrived within minutes, narrowly missing the robbers. Officers stayed with the family until the early hours. Despite a thorough investigation over the following months, all leads ran dry. A number of arrests were made but all suspects were released without charge.

The Welchs’ garden today is accessorised with garden furniture, a climbing frame and a trampoline. Birds tweet in the distance and leaves rustle in the wind.

But there are obvious signs of the aftermath of what happened here a year ago - the family guard dog, Reggie, barks viciously from his cage, CCTV cameras watch your every move and signs tell visitors of the property’s upgraded security measures.

Vicki says: “To know they’re still out there is really hard, especially when Adrian is away and I’m on my own with the children.

“People have been talking about it recently in front of our seven-year-old so she hasn’t slept properly for about two weeks.”

Adrian adds: “It’s just horrible. She won’t do swimming lessons because one of the instructors has similiar eyes to the man who held a knife to her throat.

“We’re getting to the point where we could perhaps be going to the pub for an hour and leaving Lucy with the other two because she’s nearly 16. But we can’t - Ruby won’t even go out in the garden on her own.

“People who don’t know us might think we’re really smug because we live in a nice house - but there’s not an ounce of that in our bodies. I’ve grafted 24/7 and earned every penny. I worked so hard and for someone to come in and try to take it away and hurt my family really upsets me.

“There isn’t an hour of my life I don’t think about it.”

Anyone with information on this crime should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.