The fashion designer Nicole Farhi was strangled until she blacked out and threatened with a knife in a doorstep robbery, a court heard yesterday.
The French-born designer was attacked from behind in the driveway of her home in Hampstead, north-west London, in April last year.
Her assailants stole a ring, money and her Rolex watch – ignoring her pleas that the timepiece had sentimental value and choking her with such force that she lost consciousness for a few minutes.
Her husband, playwright Sir David Hare, chased the attackers and managed to take down their car registration number after the ordeal.
But Wood Green Crown Court was told she was only one of 18 victims targeted by two brothers who attacked women for their jewellery in prosperous parts of London.
Matthew Mykoo, 27, and his brother Daniel, 28, were a "strangler-robber" team, the prosecutor John Carmichael told the court, with Daniel Mykoo attacking from behind while Matthew Mykoo snatched the victim's valuables.
"Again and again you can see the same pattern," said Mr Carmichael. "Mr Daniel Mykoo attacks the woman from behind, puts his arm around their neck and pulls, as it were strangling them. They were obviously disabled, frightened but unable to resist.
"Shortly afterwards or at the same time, the Crown says, Matthew Mykoo would come in at the front."
It is alleged that Matthew Mykoo also violently robbed another two women without his brother, but all the attacks used a similar brutal method.
Many of the victims were grabbed with such force that they lost consciousness and feared that they would be raped or murdered, jurors heard. Mr Carmichael said Lisa Shortt, a domestic violence counsellor who was robbed on 13 March last year, managed to tell the pair how frightened she was as she had a hand clamped over her eyes and a tight grip constricting her neck.
Mr Carmichael said: "She was really distressed. She thought she was going to be murdered or sexually assaulted because of the violence of the attack."
Ms Shortt had rings that were worth £15,000 stolen from her.
It was claimed that in another robbery, when Matthew Mykoo had trouble removing rings from Sangeeta Mhaiskar's hands, his brother said "Take the finger off then".
Her wedding and engagement rings were eventually taken from her without further violence.
It is alleged that the Mykoos would stalk potentially wealthy victims before they attacked them. They struck in areas including Hampstead, St John's Wood, Ladbroke Grove and Chelsea between March and June last year, Mr Carmichael said.
While some victims were robbed of jewellery worth tens of thousands of pounds, others only had costume pieces taken.
Brigitta Gruber, a nanny, was attacked for earrings worth just £30. Jurors heard details of a string of violent robberies – in total 17 women and one man were attacked.
The prosecution argues that mobile phone records show that the Mykoos were together before and after many of the robberies and some witnesses said the attackers looked like brothers.
A stolen handbag was dumped near Matthew Mykoo's house and stolen cars with fake number plates linked to the robberies were parked nearby, the prosecution said.
Matthew Mykoo, from Brent, north London, denies 16 counts of robbery, but admitted a further two counts. He also denies a charge of taking a car without consent. It is alleged the brothers carried out 16 robberies together. Daniel Mykoo, 28, from Fulham, west London, has admitted to 16 counts of robbery.