A-level student left scarred following sledgehammer attack speaks out as family offer £12,500 reward

Cricketers Close. Picture from Google Streetview

Cricketers Close. Picture from Google Streetview

First published in News
Last updated
by , Crime reporter

A 16-year-old girl has described the horrifying moment she was attacked in her own home and left needing plastic surgery. 

Shannon James, 16, an A-level student, was at home in Cricketers Close, Ashington, near Horsham, on August 29 last year when two masked robbers broke in. 

She was attacked with a crowbar and sledgehammer and left needing stitches to her face. 

Now Shannon and her mother Rebecca, 42, have chosen to speak out about their ordeal.

Ms James and partner Graham Childs had been watching TV until about 8.30pm before going to bed.

She said: "I remember we switched off the light about 8.55pm and then a little while later Shannon woke me after hearing a banging on the front door. I remember shouting, "who is it?".

"The people at the door then started shouting 'Police, Police'.

"I remember feeling relived because I thought it was the police and thought we haven't done anything and have nothing to hide.

"So I went down the stairs. That's when two men burst through the door wearing balaclavas. I knew straight away it wasn't police.

"One of the men was carrying a sledge hammer and hit me with it as I was coming down the stairs and Graham grabbed me. The one with the crowbar came up the stairs and tried to hit me and caught me on the hand. He then tried to swing again but missed.

"Shannon was suddenly there and said "Leave my mum alone". I think she saved my life that night. But the next thing I remember was her screaming.

Shannon said: "I remember seeing these two men in balaclavas and thinking this isn't real. I thought I was dreaming. I didn't really think but I wanted to help protect my mum. But the second man hit me with a crowbar as I came down the stairs. I didn't know if I was badly hurt."

The two men, who didn't speak at all once they were in the house, then left. They did not ask for money and jewellery and took nothing.

Shannon added: "I think about that night every day and I wake up every night, I jump everytime I hear a bang. People stare at the scar on my head and that's hard. I just want to know who did this and why."

Rebecca has struggled for the last five months and although her scars are not as visible as Shannon's, she has suffered emotionally.

Family members have all pulled together to put up a £12,500 reward for the conviction of those responsible for the attack.

Detective Constable Katy Lewis said: "The attackers are both described as tall, white men. The one with the sledgehammer was stocky and big and the other man is described as slimmer. They were dressed all in black and wearing balaclavas.

"We believe a green VW Golf which was found burnt out on Post View in Storrington the next day could be connected to the attack. We are hoping someone might have seen this car being driven in Ashington either before or after the attack that could help us.

"This was a terrifying attack for the whole family and they are still suffering the effects now. If you know something that could help us find the people responsible please get in contact.

"You can either speak to us at the police on 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting 1601 of 29/8 or speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers who will take information anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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