A FORMER nightclub owner subjected to a terrifying raid in her home has told how she thought she would be burned alive after her attackers tied her up and doused her in petrol.
Sheila Quadrini, the ex-wife of a nightclub tycoon, was held hostage for more than an hour in a house in Gosforth, Newcastle, as a gang ransacked her luxury detached home.
The 65-year-old was tied up during her ordeal and managed to struggle to a phone and dial 999 with her tongue after her attackers left.
Police are still appealing for information since the incident which happened on December 6. No arrests have been made as yet.
Mrs Quadrini has just returned to her house which has been her home for the past 11 years almost a month on from the raid.
She said: “It felt like it went on forever. When someone is constantly throwing petrol over you and asking you where the lighter is you think you’re going to be killed. They were in the house a long time, but it felt like forever. I do feel lucky to be alive.”
Mrs Quadrini believes she was targeted in a planned attack as she arrived at her home on Furzefield Road in Gosforth after a day at work at around 6.30pm.
While the grandmother was disabling her alarm, she felt a gloved hand reach behind her and cover her mouth.
She was forced into her living room by one of the gang as another two ran upstairs and searched through her belongings for valuables.
She said: “I think they were waiting for me. I have a regular routine so they must have known what time I would come home.
“It had to be planned, it can’t have been an opportunist thing. They tied me up, poured petrol on me and ripped off the jewellery I was wearing.
“They kept asking me: ‘Do you smoke?’ At the time I thought it was a stupid question, but they must have been looking for a lighter.
“One of them stayed with me the whole time. He was like a raving lunatic. He just kept saying: ‘Where’s the money, where’s the money?’ He stayed with me constantly while the others went through everything.”
Mrs Quadrini’s attackers eventually fled with cash and jewellery, leaving her still tied up and terrified.
She managed to free herself by struggling out of her Ugg boots which were bound with rope and with her hands still tied she made it to an upstairs phone and dialled 999 with her tongue. Mrs Quadrini, who works part-time in an office, was too afraid to return home and has stayed with relatives since the raid. The mother-of-one says she suffers flashbacks of the attack and was left shaken.
She said: “I was in shock for a long while. I was in disbelief. For the first two weeks after it happened I felt like I was living in a nightmare.
“I had to have people doing everything for me. It took me more than a week to come back.
“I have had friends and family staying with me the whole time.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Inquiries into this incident are ongoing and we would appeal for anyone with information to come forward.”
Mrs Quadrini’s ex-husband Michael operated the Tuxedo Princess nightclub in the 1980s.
The former couple have one son and divorced in 1985, but Mrs Quadrini remained involved with the business.
Anyone with information should call Northumbria Police on 101.