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Hampstead mother relives strangler robbery nightmare

PUBLISHED: 11:18 06 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 07 September 2010

Ben McPartland A Hampstead mother has revealed for the first time how she fell prey to a team of vicious robbers who target vulnerable women. Kate Wormald told how she was throttled just yards from her doorstep and stripped by her ruthless attackers of t

Ben McPartland

A Hampstead mother has revealed for the first time how she fell prey to a team of vicious robbers who target vulnerable women.

Kate Wormald told how she was throttled just yards from her doorstep and stripped by her ruthless attackers of two rings worth thousands of pounds.

She courageously spoke out as two men were sentenced to an indefinite spell behind bars for other robberies around Hampstead and St John's Wood.

Pedro Joseph, 22 and Mickel Holmes, 18, pleaded guilty to three muggings but have been linked to at least 20 other similar offences.

Ms Wormald - a 44-year-old finance lawyer - believed her attackers singled her out after watching mothers collect their children from Hampstead's wealthy private schools.

She said: "The week before it happened I saw this bloke walking past the school where I was picking my 11-year-old son up, and I can remember thinking, what is that guy doing in this road at 4.15pm with his hood up?

"He was watching people carefully and he was obviously checking out their jewellery. He stuck out like a sore thumb. Some time after that I noticed a man sat on a bench watching my flat. I felt sure it was the same man, but you just don't know.

"The police are trying to work out whether there was any pattern to the way they picked up their victims. I suppose a private school is a good a place as any to spy on potential victims."

Her worst fears were realised on the night of October 2 last year, when her stalkers pounced as she was getting out of her car at 10pm.

"These two shadowy figures appeared as I was trying to get my house keys out of my bag," she said. "It was all very suspicious. They grabbed me from behind, got me in a hold and pulled me so hard that I came out of my shoes and then they strangled me. They had me so tight I could not breathe or scream."

The severity of the attack hit home for Ms Wormald a few days later when a doctor told her she was lucky to be alive.

She said: "This orthopaedic doctor told me if the attackers had pulled any tighter they would have snapped my neck. When he told me, I just broke down. I still cannot come to terms with what they did. They are complete cowards. They pick on vulnerable, defenceless women, because we are on our own."

In the weeks after the attack Ms Wormald, a single mother, considered leaving Hampstead and was looking for a new house in a gated neighbourhood with private security. She eventually decided to stay put but has never fully recovered from the trauma. She said: "I am still very jumpy. I am constantly on red alert and I don't know whether this awful feeling will subside. I did not sleep for weeks and my 12-year-old son did not either. He was completely traumatised. I don't suppose it is nice to see your mother stumbling through the front door, unable to breathe, but he did have the presence of mind to dial 999."

Ms Wormald is still nervous about being identified and asked the Ham&High to ensure that she is not recognisable from her picture (left). She was also eager to pay tribute to the police for their success in putting another gang of robbers behind bars.

She said: "They get enough grief but when they do a good job people are very slow to come forward and say thank you. The officers were understanding and very supportive. I was so impressed by them.


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