Raiders threaten to drown nine-year-old girl

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POLICE ARE hunting masked raiders who tied up and threatened to drown a nine-year-old girl if they were not told where jewellery and money worth pounds 80,000 was hidden, writes Will Bennett.

Kerrie Ahern was bound, gagged and blindfolded with adhesive tape at her home in Southampton on Sunday while her mother's boyfriend was ordered to reveal the whereabouts of the jewellery and cash.

David Binstead, 50, who suffers from heart disease, was kicked and punched and then handcuffed by three masked men, who threatened to drown Kerrie in a nearby dock if they were not given the information. 'They threatened me that they would put Kerrie in the car boot and take her down the docks if I did not tell the truth about where the jewels were kept,' he said.

The men then waited 30 minutes for Kerrie's mother, Helen Ahern, 48, who has cancer, to come home. She was forced to hand over the pounds 12,500 diamond ring she was wearing, a pounds 1,300 opal pendant, a watch and a large emerald ring.

Kerrie said: 'I was scared. They just told me to lie down and keep quiet.' Her mother added: 'I had to hold her hand all night because she could not sleep.'

Detectives said the raiders, who were described as white, wore black clothing and balaclavas over their faces. They cut the telephone wires to the house before escaping.

Inspector Philip Robinson, of Hampshire Police, said: 'We are concerned that this type of offence should happen and involved a young child.'

Only three months ago coins and jewellery worth pounds 30,000 were stolen from the family. Mrs Ahern's late husband, Christopher, ran gambling machines on the cruise liner Canberra.

In a separate raid on Sunday in Sydenham, south-east London, armed gunmen threatened to scald two men in their seventies if they did not disclose where they kept their money. The two raiders escaped with just pounds 10 after tying up their victims, aged 71 and 75, with a telephone cord and covering their heads with blankets.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'Eventually, after the raiders threatened the two men with boiling water, they revealed the location of their money, which turned out to be just pounds 10.'