A TERRIFIED young mum was holding her baby as robbers forced their way into her luxury home and ripped rings from her fingers.

Prolific burglar Peter Paradi and an accomplice targeted upmarket homes in Bolton, Bury and Liverpool in a two month crime spree in October and November last year.

At Manchester Crown Court 44-year-old Paradi was jailed for 15 years and, on release, will be deported to Hungary.

Most of his crimes were burglaries, but on November 22 last year Stacey Tomlinson, fiancee of Metro Cars boss Nicholas Astley, was at their Lostock home with their daughters, aged three and three months when the robbers knocked at the door.

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Colin Buckle, prosecuting, told how 35-year-old Miss Tomlinson was getting the eldest child ready for nursery when there was a knock at the door at 9.15am.

Holding the baby, she spoke to two men through the window who told her that her husband had sent them to look at the gutters.

“She felt she was being rude by talking to them through the window and at that stage she decided that she would open the door,” said Mr Buckle.

The men pushed their way into the house and Paradi’s accomplice, a stocky black man, grabbed her by the throat and marched her into the living room.

“Please don’t, my little girls”, Miss Tomlinson pleaded with the robbers, but was told to sit down.

The toddler was crying and so her mum tried to calm her by telling her that the men had called about Christmas, which was just a month away.

And she asked Paradi’s accomplice to stop stroking the child’s hair.

During the 20 minute ordeal Miss Tomlinson’s £45,000 diamond engagement ring was pulled from her hand as well as another £35,000 diamond ring and a watch and other items were taken as the house was ransacked.

And at one point Paradi opened his coat pocket and showed her a gun, telling her “don’t make me use this”.

Mr Buckle said: “She was unsure whether it was a real gun or imitation.”

Altogether goods worth more than £100,000 were taken, including one of the children's silver Christening mugs, by the pair after shutting Miss Tomlinson and the children in an upstairs room.

In a victim statement, Miss Tomlinson told how her eldest daughter is now so afraid after the ordeal that she will not sleep alone.

On November 30 police, who were already seeking Paradi for a number of burglaries, arrested him in Wrexham.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, 11 burglaries, four attempted burglaries and making off without paying for petrol.

Among the burglaries a house in Thorn Street, Bolton, where a £6,000 engagement ring, which a man had just bought for his fiancee, was taken and other properties were also ransacked in areas such as Ringley Road, Whitefield, Ravenswood Drive, Lostock, Ramsbottom and upmarket areas of Liverpool.

“Part of the modus operandi was to target these type of properties,” said Mr Buckle.

Mohammed Nawaz, defending, said that Hungarian born Paradi, who came to the UK in 2012 after spending time in the USA, had worked as a hotel and restaurant manager.

But in March last year his father died and his wife left him, taking their six-year-old daughter back to Hungary.

He added that depression led to drug and alcohol abuse.

“His descent, however, was not complete because he then began to gamble as well and, as was always inevitable, these activities put him in the wrong company and, more particularly, led him to being in massive debt,” said Mr Nawaz, who added that Paradi has also been diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

“His life essentially had fallen apart at the seams.

“He began to burgle to fund his drugs misuse and pay off the debts he had been accruing. He regrets and is thoroughly remorseful and ashamed for his behaviour.”

Sentencing Paradi, Judge Graeme Smith told him that, until last year he had lived a predominantly law abiding life.

“To put it colloquially, you went off the rails at that stage,” he told him. “No doubt at the time you committed these offences you were thinking only of your own position and of yourself.

“You clearly gave no thought at the time to the people whose houses you were targeting.

"We have heard from some of the victims of those crimes: people who are afraid in their own homes; people whose children are afraid to go home; people who no linger feel safe in the houses they have lived in, in some cases, for many years; people who are suffering flashbacks and nightmares or who have had to seek help from their GP; people who are even intending to move house because of what has happened. Your selfish acts have had a devastating effect on many lives."

He added that Miss Tomlinson and her daughters had been subjected to "a terrifying ordeal". "She was threatened with, what she believed at the time, could have been a real firearm. You say it was a toy, but she was not to know that.

"I find it astonishing that, being the father of a young girl yourself, you went through with that robbery despite realising, when you went in, that there were two young children at home. Perhaps that shows the depths to which you had sunk."