Published: 19:31, 10 September 2020
| Updated: 19:44, 10 September 2020
An 80-year-old woman has described how she thought she was going to die when a masked burglar held a gun to her head during an evening raid on her home.
A trail of blood stains on the carpet is a reminder of the terrifying ordeal inflicted on Joan Stones and her partner John Miles, who cut his knee after being forced to kneel on broken glass.
Despite many efforts, and eight days on, the stains won't come out and the pair are still picking up glass fragments, after the two masked thugs broke into the property in Chantler's Hill near Paddock Wood by breaking the patio doors.
But, speaking before driving herself to a line dancing class, Ms Stone says she will not let the experience stop her from enjoying life.
The couple were watching TV at around 8.20pm on September 2 when they heard a "big explosion" as the two men, both dressed in black and wearing balaclavas, shattered the glass and broke in.
One had a shotgun, while another was armed to a crowbar. Mr Miles, 78, was pushed to the floor and one man then demanded to be led to the bedroom.
The pair were ordered to sit on the bed while the room was searched.
The great-grandma was struck with the barrel of the gun, leaving a bruise on one side of her face.
"He told me if I moved he would shoot me. When he put the shotgun to my head I thought that was the end of my life. I didn't know if it was loaded."
Jewellery from the bedroom was taken as well as money from Ms Stone's purse. As they left, one of the thugs said: "If you ring the police we will shoot the pair of you," the former accountant recalls.
"They were here for about three or four minutes but it felt like a lifetime," Ms Stone said.
After dialling 999, officers descended with tracker dogs and a helicopter was also used to search for the pair.
Yesterday, police confirmed the suspects remain at large. One of the suspects is described as having a large build and was around 6ft, while the other was shorter and slimmer.
Ms Stone and Mr Miles were taken to hospital as a precaution before being discharged.
Ms Stone was asked whether she would prefer to attend via videolink, or with a screen between herself and the culprits, if the case goes to court.
She replied that she will attend in person and face "the cowards".
Determined to continue with her independent life, she has already attended two line dancing classes since the burglary.
Ms Stone said: "A friend of mine at line dancing keeps texting me and offering to drive me to the class, but I say 'no I've got to do it on my own'.
"To me, if I don't do it now I might never do it. I am getting on with my normal routine."
Yesterday police renewed their appeal for members of the public to come forward with any information that would help the investigation.
DC Dave Evans said the force were using "all resources at our disposal to track the culprits down and bring them to justice."
The force has been asked for an update on the investigation this evening.