Two families were terrified when three masked men brandishing knives forced their way into their homes near Wrexham.
Two of the raiders have never been caught, but one of them, Lucas Partyka, 27, was jailed for six years after he admitted two charges of aggravated burglary at High Street, Rhos.
Mold Crown Court was told Partyka was angry over a drugs deal when he went to the houses looking for money and drugs.
But it was stressed that the victims, including two terrified mums with their children in the houses, were not involved in the earlier drugs transaction.
Partyka, of Meadow Lea in Wrexham, was at the time in January last year on early release licence from a three-and-a-half year sentence for burglary.
Co-defendant Laura Evans, 27, of Pentre Gwyn in Wrexham, who admitted assisting an offender after she drove men from the scene to impede apprehension, received a 12 month community order with 160 hours unpaid work and an activity programme after the court heard that she had since changed her lifestyle completely.
Judge David Hale told Partyka that it was obvious that his life had been substantially ruined by his addiction to drugs.
That was no doubt partly behind what happened that morning in January last year.
He was prepared to accept that there had been a drugs transaction which “gave arise to annoyance” which led to the three to go looking for more drugs and money. But it was nothing to do with the victims.
The first was faced by three men with knives who kicked their way into her home which “must have been terrifying for her.”
The judge said that it was pretty determined and when she fled upstairs the bathroom door was kicked open and she was threatened.
They then left and did the same thing in another house down the road.
Partyka had previous convictions for 47 offences, had been recalled to custody and the sentence would mean that he would spend the last half of the 2010s in prison, said Judge Hale.
He warned that Partyka would have received an eight year sentence but for his guilty pleas.
Evans, he said, had turned her life around. She had admitted driving the men away knowing they had committed the offences, but she had no involvement in the violence or the intrusion into the houses.
“Don’t be so stupid again,” the judge told her.
Prosecutor Emmalyne Downing said that a mother of three was at home when she answered a knock on her door to find a man wearing a black balaclava with slits for the eyes, holding a knife about 10 inches long.
“She immediately thought that she was going to be killed,” she said. The victim ran into the bathroom and locked the door.
She heard someone shout “where are the drugs”, and the bathroom door was kicked and a foot came through.
A man came in and pointed a knife at her, but did not touch her.
She pleaded with him to go, followed him downstairs and saw that there were three people inside the house all carrying knives. One was wearing what appeared to be a gas mask.
The police were alerted and £30 had been taken from the victim’s purse.
Down the street another mother of three ignored knocking at the door and her partner found a hand coming through broken glass in the door and attempting to open it.
Three men with dark clothing and carrying knives were outside the house and the woman fled upstairs with her children who were screaming.
The men ran away when she said she was calling the police.
Miss Downing said that the victims had no idea what it was all about.
Neighbours heard the commotion and one told how she saw a man dressed in black holding a knife shouting “come on”. She could hear a woman and children screaming.
Barrister Brian Treadwell, for Partyka, there had been a drugs transaction that morning, but not with the victims.
Partyka was not happy about it and he wanted his money back or drugs. He went about it in a forceful way.
The defendant had the good sense to plead guilty and was undergoing plastering, bricklaying and tiling courses while in custody.
Barrister Matthew Curtis, for Evans, said she had done everything she could to put things right in the last 12 months.
There had been significant changes in her life. She no longer took drugs.
At the time she had been on a path of self-destruction but she realised she had hit rock bottom.
Her priority now was her children, her job and her health and she was now a low risk of re-conviction.
Judge Hale said there had been a long delay in bringing the case to court. While the police had clearly been looking for the two other men, he said it was not the type of case where it had been appropriate to bring Partyka to court by postal requisition - sending him a letter and asking him to attend – due to the seriousness of the case. “It is a sad reflection of our times,” he said.
Following sentencing DI Mark Hughes said: “ Lucas Partyka is a prolific criminal who has caused untold harm to the community of Wrexham over many years.
”He now has to face the consequences of his latest serious offence and will spend some considerable time behind bars.
”North Wales Police will always pursue those who cause our communities such harm. I am sure that residents will be relieved and feel that Wrexham is a safer place now that this individual is prison.”