‘Noxious’ spray used in home robbery

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A Horsham man is recovering from a damaged retina after thieves sprayed a ‘noxious’ fluid in his face before robbing him of cash and jewellery.

Victim Raymond Chastey has spoken to the County Times about the ‘despicable’ and calculated crime which took place at his home in Leith View Road, north Horsham.

On Tuesday morning three men posing as staff from the ‘water board’ convinced the victim his drains needed urgent attention as there was ‘a build up of pressure in the system’ which could force them apart.

In a chilling revelation, Raymond, aged 63, said he recognised the vehicle as one parked in his road a couple of weeks ago.

He believes the criminals spied on him, studied the area and targeted his home because of his age and the fact that he uses a walking stick.

A Horsham man is recovering from a damaged retina after thieves sprayed a ‘noxious’ fluid in his face before robbing him of cash and jewellery on Tuesday morning.

Victim Raymond Chastey has spoken to the County Times about the ‘despicable’ and calculated crime which took place at his home in Leith View Road, north Horsham.

“It was a blimmin’ water board scam,” said the 63-year-old, who has lived in the home with his 87-year-old mother all his life, and never experienced an incident so distressing.

“At 9.40am one bloke, dressed pretty well, came to the door with an ID badge and a picture of him on it.”

The man claimed he was from the ‘water board’, and said he need to look at his drains because there was ‘a build up of pressure in the system’ which could force them apart.

He proceeded to the bathroom as Raymond’s mother slept in the next room, checked the pipes and put a glove on.

“Then another bloke came in and looked at the kitchen sink,” continued the victim. “I went in to see if mum was all right and when I came back there was all water coming from the kitchen ceiling.

“I said ‘Christ what’s happening?’, and he said a joint had come apart - I didn’t know any better - but he must have got a glass and thrown water up there to make it look like it was leaking because once it had gone there was no more.”

As Raymond was distracted another man entered his home and joined the accomplice upstairs. He said: “And that’s when they started robbing the place. I walked through the passageway to the stairs and said ‘what’s going on up there’ and all of a sudden I had water on my head and my eyes started stinging.

“And then someone said ‘sit in that chair, or you might get hurt’. Then he sprayed me in the eyes with something. It was stinking, everything was misty and I got to the door just in time to see the car drive off.”

The men had stolen two black safes containing cash and jewellery - of sentimental value to Raymond’s mother, who is not aware the robbery took place. They drove away in the direction of Crawley in a silver Vauxhall hatchback-type saloon.

Raymond was left badly shocked,and was taken to East Surrey Hospital with a damaged retina caused by the fluid, which has yet to be identified by police.

All the suspects are described as white. One is believed to be particularly short, about 4ft 10in to 11in, of stocky build, in his 20s, wearing a grey NY baseball cap, grey trousers and a light top.

The second man was 5ft 6in, of slim build, in his late 30s, with light coloured hair, and was wearing blue trousers with paint on, and a blue shirt with a ‘Transco’ badge bearing the photo of him or another man.

The third man was 6ft, in his 40s, had a moustache and was wearing a white top. All three were wearing gloves.

Detective Constable Phil Peadon said: “This was a despicable crime. People need to be cautious when answering the door to strangers. Any number of reasons are given to distract residents and we urge people to be extra careful, closing the door, checking identity, and be on their guard.

“We are appealing for witnesses, and ask that if anyone becomes aware of someone trying to dispose of a safe, please call the police via 101 quoting serial 0403 of 24/7. You can also call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 1111.”

For an exclusive interview with the crime victim see the West Sussex County Times (Thursday July 26).