PUBLISHED: 15:29 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:29 05 August 2019
A member of a knife-wielding gang who mistakenly burst into a home and demanded drugs from a mother while her young daughter slept upstairs has been jailed for nine years.
Michael Mensah, 23, along with four other men, used a paving slab to smash into the woman’s home on Pound Lane, in Thorpe St Andrew, on November 21, last year.
One gang member then held a knife to the woman’s throat and asked “where is the food?”, a slang term for drugs.
Mensah, from Luton, had denied aggravated burglary on November 21, last year, but was convicted following a trial at Norwich Crown Court.
He appeared over a video link from Norwich prison for the hearing. A family member who was in court collapsed after hearing the sentence.
David Wilson, prosecuting, said the victim, who was 42 at the time of the burglary, had said that it had caused her a great deal of stress and anxiety.
Jailing Mensah, Judge Anthony Bate said the burglary had a significant physical and psychological effect on the victim and said: “This was a group attack.”
He said they had mistakenly thought they would find drugs and cash to steal: “It was plain there was nothing there to be found and you all moved off.”
However, he said Mensah was the only one of the gang to be caught as he left blood at the scene.
He said that it was a “brazen” attack on a woman in her own home.
Adam Butler, for Mensah, said that he had some insight into the effect his offending had on the victim.
He said that Mensah was still young and said: “There is time for him to change.”
He said that Mensah was hardworking and was putting his time in prison to good use.
He said that he had fallen into using drugs and had owed cash: “He is going to have a lengthy period of reflection now.”
During the trial the victim told how she heard a smash and went downstairs to find a man in her lounge holding a large knife.
She said four other men, all wearing hoodies as a disguise, then climbed in through the window. She said two of them had knives and one had an iron bar.
She said she was thrown onto the sofa and a knife held to her throat.
She was dragged upstairs and her home was searched before the gang left after finding nothing.
She then phoned police after checking on her daughter and said it had been “terrifying”.
Police were quickly on the scene and blood was found on a wall and on her top, which matched the DNA of Mensah.
His palm print was also found on the smashed window pane.
Mensah was arrested on January 13 this year at Luton Airport as he was about to fly out of the UK.
After the case Det Con Roland Philpin said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the victim in a case of mistaken identity. Mensah is clearly a dangerous individual and today’s sentencing means he can no longer be a threat to the community.”