Butcher’s knife was held at victim’s chin

Mr Henry Phillips MBE
Mr Henry Phillips MBE

A 78-year-old man who was threatened with a butchers knife during a horrifying robbery at his home on the Chapel Road in Glenavy, has spoken for the first time of his ordeal.

Former vice principal of St Aidan’s High School, Henry Phillips, who has not returned to his house, believes it will take him years to get over the trauma of being held up at his home in the early morning incident on January 6,

The armed robber, believed to be in his early 20’s, who wore a white balaclava over his face, told him that he ‘needed money to feed his children.’

Mr Phillips, who received the MBE for his voluntary work, had been up making himself a cup of tea at around 5.45am and, after he put the bin out, the robber broke the kitchen window with a stone.

Mr Phillips watched in astonishment as the robber began lifting the pains of glass to get into the house.

Once in, he placed a butchers knife close to Mr Phillips chin asking him for jewellery and money.

Mr Phillips said, “It was terrifying but I did not want to do anything to antagonise him. He asked twice for gold rings and money. I told him I did not have a safe and the only bit of money I had was in my coat.

“He did not touch me but he did not have to. He forced me into the room where my coat was while holding the knife close to my hand. I had no intention of antagonising him. I knew if I made a wrong move he would hurt me.”

After Mr Phillips handed over £95, he told him that that was all the money that he had.

“I knew he could not get out so I asked him if he wanted me to let him out,” said Mr Phillips. “I feared that he would cut the phone lines as my mobile was not working, but thankfully he did not.”

The robber made off on foot and 15 minutes after being alerted the police, three police cars arrived at the door.

Mr Phillips was co founder of the Lisburn Community Forum, the Glenavy Development Partnership and South Antrim Rural Network. He was Director of rural network TADA, Lagan Rural Development Partnership and a member of Housing Community Network

This is the second time, Mr Phillips had been robbed at home.

Thirteen years ago when he lived with his brother in the Filterbeds, two robbers forced their way into his home and threatened the pair with scissors.

“I am staying with my cousin at the moment as I found it too hard to go back home again,” said Mr Phillips.

“I am looking at other options for the long term. The last time I was robbed it took me two years to get over it. I fear it will take me that long to get over this.”

Councillor Pat Catney said that he was horrified at hearing of the robbery.

“I know the man has been left shaken up by the ordeal,” he said.

“He is a very well known man who is a really good person who works hard for the community. He is an ex teacher of mine and a real stalwart in the community.

“When I heard of this I was disgusted and sickened. He is such a hard working man who does not deserve this. I would appeal to people to look out for their neighbours and report anything suspicious to the police.”

Councillor Thomas Beckett said, “I am shocked to hear that this has happened to this gentleman who I know. Glenavy is a tight knit community and I would appeal to anyone who may have seen anything to contact the police.”

The police would like to hear from anyone who may have been in the area of Chapel Road between 5 and 6am on January 6 to come forward and speak to detectives in Lisburn.

They also can be contacted on 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.