Burglar Ryan Lewis made Gloucester woman go blind with fear
COWERING in the kitchen as her home was ransacked, Anna Buckland's terrifying burglary ordeal has left a lasting mark.
As if getting burgled twice in two months wasn't bad enough, stress brought on temporary blindness for Anna, a former teacher.
Two months after the attack on her home, burglar Ryan Lewis is beginning a three-year prison term.
As police left the scene on August 22, Anna was taken ill and rushed to hospital for treatment for high blood pressure. Anna is only just recovering her confidence, but her sight has thankfully returned.
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Her engagement ring and valuable family heirlooms were taken in the first raid earlier this year. A few weeks later and her home near Tuffley was hit for a second time, while she was there.
This time she was alone in the house, and feared that she would become the victim of violence, should the man inside her home find her hiding downstairs with just an ironing board for protection.
Her experience was played out in a harrowing 999 call picked up by handler Maureen Heard. Police have now released the recording in the hope it will encourage others to report suspicious activity.
The drama unfolded as Anna was hanging out the washing on a warm summer day.
"Apparently the burglar had knocked on the door and done different things to see if I was in, but I hadn't heard anything," she said.
"I came through into the lounge and thought 'I've left my handbag upstairs', then I heard breaking glass.
"I was thinking it was outside, but it was quite loud. I did not think it had anything to do with my house.
"When I realised it was in my house, I froze – it was a big shock."
Anna was a teacher for 30 years. It wasn't her first experience of danger as she had been threatened with a knife in school, but this was different.
"It was a very personal attack," said Anna, 57. "I knew I had to get to the phone immediately.
"I ran to the kitchen, grabbed the phone and got hold of the door handle. I couldn't have got out without him seeing me. Someone was trying to get in and I was in the house alone. It sounded horrendous. I had no idea how much time I had, but didn't want to panic, so dialled 999.
"It was fear of the unknown, I was getting quite breathless.
"I was confronting the fact that, if he found me and came through the door, I would have to use violence to protect myself.
"I had no idea what I was facing. All I had was the ironing board. I thought if I could drop that infront of the door, that would give me time to get away.
"I was planning to escape through the garden.
"Then I turned my attention to catching him. If I could keep it together with Maureen's help, we could get him.
"I could hear him coming right up close to the door I was hiding behind.
"There were times when I knew he was so close. Maureen was asking me questions but I couldn't answer because I knew he was so close and would have heard me.
"I assumed he was there to burgle, and if I kept quiet, I would be okay.
"But when he is that close it is scary.
"I'm usually quite a confident person, but having to face up to maybe having to hurt somebody to protect myself was an awful experience.
"I had time to think about it, and that was the worst part. You hope someone would run away, but you don't know. It wasn't about being brave. I had no choice, either panic or say – right I don't want this to happen to anybody else. It was a massive relief when the police arrived."
Anna said those 10 minutes on the phone seemed like an eternity, but Maureen stayed calm until police dog handler PC Richard Brooks and his German shepherd Obi burst through the door and apprehended Lewis, 32, of Rosebery Avenue, Gloucester.
Chief Insp Richard Burge said: "We knew there was someone in the house and needed to contain the situation as quickly as possible. Lewis admitted eight other offences.
"If we had not stopped him then, he would not have stopped."
Extracts from Anna’s desperate 999 call to the police
ANNA Buckland: “Someone is trying to break into my house and I’m here on my own. He has just smashed my front door top window. My name is Anna Buckland – please help me.”
Maureen Heard: “Can you actually see anybody?”
AB: “I had a burglary about a month or so ago and I am very, very frightened.”
MH: “Are you inside or outside the house?”
AB: “I’m inside the property on my own and I’m trying to hold the door because I don’t have a lock on the door. I’m in the kitchen.”
MH: “Ok, let me put that through. What room are you in Anna?”
AB: “I’m in the kitchen, right at the back of the house and I’m holding on to the door handle.”
MH: “Where is the glass?”
AB: “I think it is in the front of the house. It is either the front window, or the front door.”
MH: “Can you hear any of them climbing in or anything?”
MH: “Can you hear anything at all Anna?”
AB: “No, I’m holding on to the door still.”
MH: “I’ll keep on the phone, if you hear anything, let me know. They are on their way. I’m not sure where they are coming from, they will be there soon.”
AB: “My house is quite difficult to find, it is the first house on the road. It’s surrounded by trees.”
MH: “Can people across the road see you?”
AB: “No, nobody can see me. My other half is away, I’m on my own.”
MH: “Do you think they have gone off now?”
AB: “No, I don’t think so, I don’t know.”
MH: “Don’t worry, they won’t be too long. I know it seems like forever when you’re waiting for them.”
AB: “Yes. Somebody came through the kitchen window last time.”
MH: “Do you think it is because your house is surrounded by trees then?”
AB: “I don’t know, I have no idea.
MH: “Do the trees give coverage then?”
AB : “Yes.”
MH: “I think you probably would have heard them if they were in the house now.”
AB: “I’m frightened.”
MH: “There are quite a few places for them to come in so try not to worry, you don’t have to speak or make a sound. If you hear anything – let me know ok? You don’t know how you will react in these circumstances do you?”
MH: “Can you get out the back door to get to safety? Anna, I can’t hear you – try and get out without making too much noise. They are going to do the silent approach so they will be turning off the sirens. Can you either hide somewhere or get out the back door? Police are there so don’t panic. they are there.”
AB: “I can hear someone up the stairs now, I don’t want to be in this house.”
MH: “Do you think there is more than one?”
AB: “I don’t know.”
MH: “The police are there, don’t worry. Take a deep breath, police are there. They will be coming in quietly – ok? Is the front door open, is the back door open?”
MH: “Officers are going round the back, ok?”
AB: “Hold on I’m coming, somebody is upstairs, can you get him?
(To police) – there is somebody upstairs.”
MH: “Are you ok? You’re safe now, the police are there.
AB: “Oh god. Oh god.”
MH: “Don’t worry they’ve got him.”
AB: “Thank you so much.”