A FAMILY suffered a terrifying ordeal when an armed gang broke into their house and attacked them with axes.

An 11-year-old girl and her mother were forced to hide in a cupboard upstairs while the girl’s father and brother fought the raiders off.

The Casey family were at home in Winchester Way, Breightmet, at around 9pm on September 26, 2015, when there was knock at the door.

Julie Casey, who was with her husband Shaun, 24-year-old son James and young daughter, got up to answer it.

However, as she put her key in the lock, son James told her not to open it as there were three men at the door wearing balaclavas and wielding hand axes.

He told his mum and his sister to go upstairs and barricade themselves in. Two of the masked men then smashed through the front downstairs window and climbed into the living room.

They then began attacking James and his dad with the axes and as James tried to run away he was struck on the back of the head.

The two men were shouting ‘where is the cash’ while the attack was carried out.

Shaun Casey was also hit in the back of the head but managed to wrestle an axe from one of the men and lay on top of it to stop it being used. However, the axe was taken from him and he was struck on the front of the head with the weapon.

James managed to escape and used a passer-by’s phone to call the police.

His father also managed to get out of the house as the raiders fled and tried to attack police officers because he was so disorientated by the attack.

James Casey was described as being covered in blood by officers when they arrived.

Yesterday at Bolton Court, Scott O’Neill was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the attack.

A jury had found O’Neill guilty of two counts of section 18 wounding – causing grievous bodily harm with intent and not guilty of robbery.

After the trial O’Neill, of Bury New Road, Bolton, admitted that he was one of the three men involved in the raid but said that he never went inside the house and was standing outside the whole time.

The two other masked men have yet to be identified.

However, Judge Timothy Stead, said that whether he carried out the physical attack or not, did not matter as it was clearly a pre-planned offence that he played a role in.

O’Neill’s DNA was found at the crime scene and he handed himself into police on October 11 2015.

Both James and Shaun Casey have been left with permanent scars on their heads from the attack.

Laura Nash, prosecuting, read victim impact statements from both men to the court.

Speaking of the impact on Shaun Casey, she said: “He said that he couldn’t go home. He was scared it would happen again and felt like he could have died.

“When he looks in the mirror the scar reminds him of that day.

“The family don’t walk to the shops anymore, they feel safer going in the car. They have spent £400 on CCTV, they feel like prisoners in their own home.”

James Casey was living at home with his parents and his partner when the attack took place.

Miss Nash said he felt violated and like he could not protect his family. He has since moved away from Bolton because of what happened.

Robert Galinski, defending O’Neill, said the attack only lasted two or three minutes and suggested it was an ‘inquisitive’ break-in, rather than a revenge attack.

Judge Timothy Stead said: “They must have been terrified.

“The head is an especially dangerous position to be striking anyone with a hand axe.

“It is a mercy that neither of them suffered the gravest kind of injures. It could have been far, far worse in a physical sense.”

Shaun Casey and other members of his family were present in court and wept as the verdict was read out.