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KNIFE THUGS ROB PRIESTS; Two held hostage os church is ransacked.

Byline: DEBBIE JOHNSON and GREGG FRAY

TWO Merseyside priests were held at knifepoint by a gang of thugs.

The masked raiders, armed with blades and screwdrivers, attacked Fathers George Robson, 67, and Peter Dooley, 71, at a presbytery in Huyton.

Father Robson relived his ordeal today: "I've lived in this community for 10 years and have always felt very safe.

But it is a terrible thing for something like this to happen in your own home."

The raiders stole the church collection and a primary school's lottery funds before locking the clergymen in a side room of the church.

They struck as Father Robson arrived at his home at St Dominic's RC church in Southdean Road, Huyton, after a charity bingo night at a nearby social club.

The parish priest was grabbed from behind by two men, armed with knives, and pushed into the presbytery. They hurled him to the floor, shouting threats in the Sunday night attack.

A third man armed with a screwdriver then appeared with Father Dooley, who had been in an upstairs room.

They forced the priests to hand over keys to the safe, which they rifled before stealing the cash.

The victims were marched into an ante-room and locked in. They freed themselves and called police.

The lottery money they stole was earmarked for St Dominic's primary school.

Father Robson said: "I was coming back home. I opened my front door and was pushed from behind by two masked men who must have been waiting for me.

"They tore the pockets of my trousers and took my keys and demanded to know where the safe was. A third man had Father Dooley at knifepoint."

DCI Lol Carr said: ""I would appeal to anyone who may have seen someone acting suspiciously in the Southdean Road area of Huyton, or who knows anything about the incident, to contact us as soon as possible."

Two raiders are about 5ft 10in tall. The third was approximately 5ft 8in.

Witnesses should telephone detectives on 0151-777 6570 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

CAPTION(S):

ORDEAL: Father Robson at his presbytery today after being attacked and robbed in a terrifying ordeal by three armed thugs Picture: EDDIE BARFORD
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2002
Words:367
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