UNINVITED callers brought no festive cheer to a resident of a terraced house on Christmas Eve, a court was told.

The lone occupant, who was preparing to go out for the night, answered the door of his home, in East Stanley, to two strangers, one, John Twiname, armed with a samurai sword, at 9pm on December 24, 2018.

Durham Crown Court, sitting at Newcastle, heard they pushed him and barged in, one of them appearing to know who he was, saying: “You're ****, aren’t you?”

Twiname’s accomplice said: “You and your dad have p*****d somebody off.”

Ian West, prosecuting, said the shocked householder was told to hand over his mobile phone and warned not to, “try anything stupid”.

Mr West said the pair seemed to know what they were coming for, asking to be taken to the safe, as the older man was armed with a silver tool to open the door.

The householder was led downstairs, where a female friend of his father, who lives nearby, called in her pyjamas to drop something off and was greeted by Twiname.

He told her she was not going anywhere, but she said she had to attend to a lone baby in her car.

Mr West said this was a ruse to get out, as she immediately took a taxi to a pub where the father of the resident in the house was drinking.

He rounded up what Mr West described as, “a posse”, and they went to the house, where they were involved in a confrontation during which fence posts were thrown at the intruders.

Although police were called, officers had not arrived before the raiders managed to flee in a van, with £480 taken from the safe and some household possessions, but they left behind other items stacked ready to steal.

Mr West said several months later Twiname was pinpointed by the householder via a video identity procedure, but his alleged accomplice, who was arrested, denied involvement and could not be identified, and so was released without charge.

The court heard that due to events that night the targeted family have spent a lot of money improving home security.

Twiname, 29, of a hostel in High Street East, Sunderland, admitted aggravated burglary and making threats with a bladed article.

Susan Hirst, mitigating, said the offences marked a return to crime for her client, who has nothing on his record in recent years.

She said after the break-up of a long-term relationship, he lived at a hostel, where a fellow resident asked him to accompany him that night.

Judge James Adkin described it as, a ”targeted attack”, causing a, “significant impact”, on the householders.

"This was a determined, carefully planned home invasion by those two men."

Jailing Twiname for seven years and four months, the judge also imposed a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching the targeted house and its occupants, for ten years.

Following the hearing, Detective Constable Christopher Bentham said: “This was a terrifying attack when the victims should have been enjoying family time on Christmas Eve.

“Our officers left no stone unturned in pursuing Twinane and bringing him to justice for such a despicable crime which will not be tolerated in our communities.

“It has had a lasting impact on the victim and the wider family who, along with ourselves, are really pleased that Twiname has been given a substantial sentence which reflects the seriousness of such a nasty crime.”