Machete raiders jailed

Jason Diprose
Jason Diprose

A woman has told of her terror after being woken by a masked man during a raid by a machete-wielding gang.

The 30-year-old was in bed as her boyfriend played poker with friends downstairs when the robbers struck at her home on Robin Crescent, Heysham.

One of them threatened her and dragged her from her bed before the gang escaped with £2,000 and mobile phones.

Speaking after five people involved in the raid were all given jail sentences at Preston Crown Court, she said: “It was horrific to have men force their way into my home with machetes and balaclavas.

“It was a terrifying ordeal and it has had a great effect on me. I am relieved that these men are now behind bars as it means I can move on with my life.”

The gang had been made aware of the game of poker through their associates.

Brothers Jason and Richard Diprose enlisted their friend Lee McDermott, a taxi driver, to drive to the address on Sunday, May 22, last year.

Shortly after 11.15pm, the homeowner answered a knock at his door and was confronted by a man holding a pizza box, who sprayed him in the eyes with an unknown noxious substance.

His assailant, later picked out at an identity parade as Harry Ralphs, then entered the house with other gang members who were all wearing dark clothing, black balaclavas and black gloves.

Three of them were carrying machetes. One told the poker players to get on the floor, threatening to cut of their heads, while another went upstairs and grabbed the woman.

The ordeal lasted only a couple of minutes before the men escaped with the cash and phones.

Balaclavas were later found at the home of Neil Bradley. Machetes were found under a shed at the home of Richard Diprose.

Five men, four of them from Lancaster’s Ryelands estate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery.

Jason Diprose, 26, formerly of Clare Road, but who was already serving a 16 year sentence imposed earlier this year for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, was jailed for an additional five years.

His brother Richard Diprose, 25, of Austwick Road, Lancaster, was jailed for eight years and six months.

Ralphs, 21 of Dee Road, Lancaster, was jailed for seven years and eight months for the robbery. He was also sentenced for two other burglaries last year, one of which involved the theft of Christmas presents bought for two children who had just lost their dad to cancer.

Ralphs also had 43 other offences taken into consideration. His total sentence was nine years and four months.

Lee McDermott, 26, of Haylot Square, Lancaster was jailed for five years and nine months.

And Neil Bradley, 21, of Austwick Rd, Lancaster, was jailed for seven years and eight months for the robbery and for another one year and 10 months for possession of a shotgun and a bladed instrument found in a holdall on Austwick Road in June last year.