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Husband, wife bound with zip ties after masked men invaded home, court told

Daphne Crant knew by the tone of her son's voice something was very wrong.

'Sorry,' armed intruder told Paradise man after cutting him while tying his wrists together

Mitchell Nippard and Gary Hennessey are two of four men accused in a string of home invasions on the northeast Avalon in February of 2017. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Daphne Crant knew by the tone of her son's voice something was very wrong the night masked and armed men broke into her Paradise home.

"'You need to come out right now,'" her son Michael said from the other side of the bathroom door.

Crant had just finished work and was taking a bath. She got out of the tub and dressed.

But she had no idea when she opened the door she'd come face-to-face with a gun.

Two men — one she described as "dark-skinned" wearing a balaclava and another with a mask — were standing outside the door with her son. 

She didn't know them. But they called her 'Mom.'

As they demanded money from Michael, they said, "'Mom, we won't hurt you as long as you cooperate,'" Daphne Crant testified Thursday.

Wrists bound by zip ties

Crant and her husband, Ivan, took the stand for the Crown at a shocking home invasion trial playing out at provincial court in St. John's.

Four men — Mitchell Nippard, Gary Hennessey, Tyler Donahue and Abdifatah Mohamed — face a total of 53 charges connected to five home invasions on Newfoundland's northeast Avalon Peninsula in a single month early last year.

The Crant home on Milton Road was a target on Feb. 8, 2017, and the family's description of events that night reads like a movie script.

After Daphne Crant was accosted outside her bathroom, she was led to her son's bedroom. There, she saw Michael's girlfriend bound by zip ties around her wrists.

Abdifatah Mohamed, 28, is representing himself a trial involving a number of home invasions and robberies. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Soon, the middle-aged mother would be in the same position — with white plastic ties around her wrists and an extension cord wrapped around her ankles, she said. 

What she didn't know was that her husband, Ivan, and her son's friends were also bound with zip ties on their wrists and black tape over their mouths in a shed behind their home. 

'Sorry'

Court was told that earlier in the evening, three men — two with guns and one with a knife — walked into the shed, where they were playing darts, and ordered "everybody down."

"We were down on the floor, down on our knees, it happened too fast," Ivan Crant told the court.

There was little conversation, he said.

One of the few things the masked men said was "sorry" when they accidentally cut his hand while tying him up. 

Tyler Donahue is the only accused who is not currently in custody. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

"They were asking Michael for money and he said he had no money, and with that they took him out the shed door."

One of the men stayed in the shed to keep watch so no one could escape. 

Don't call police, robbers tell family

Ivan Crant can remember the sound the knife made as the masked man dragged it across a metal surface.

Eventually, he said, the other two armed men returned with Michael, where they threatened him again.

"They were pounding on him, hitting him ... at one point they threatened to start breaking beer bottles," Ivan Crant said.

Later, all three intruders would leave the shed with Michael. But not before instructing the group to not call police and to stay on the floor, he said.

After deliberating, Ivan Crant said the men untied each other, and Crant went inside the house where he untied his wife and his son's girlfriend.

A family on Milton Road in Paradise had three armed men enter their home on Feb. 8, 2017, witnesses told a St. John's courtroom Thursday. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Both groups had been instructed to stay where they were and that someone would be back in 30 minutes to untie them.

I walk in my house and my dog was dead.- Brad Wadden

"At that point, I was scared to death ... I figured if I called the police, Michael would be gone," Ivan Crant said.

He said he and the others drove around aimlessly until returning to see the full destruction of the home invasion: drawers pulled out, closets rummaged through, jewelry and other items stolen. 

Ivan Crant told the court he believes police were notified of the home invasion when Michael Crant showed up at hospital, in need of stitches to his head.

His testimony is scheduled to continue Friday.

Boxer shot dead defending property

Earlier in the day, the court heard from a man whose two dogs were shot during another home invasion on Feb. 4, 2017 at his parents' home on Mount Royal Avenue in central St. John's.

Brad Wadden testified via video link from prison, where he has months left to serve for drug trafficking.

Wadden said men wearing Halloween masks and holding a gun kicked in the door of his home around 1:30 a.m.

He ran out the door with another man, and down the street, he said.

"I heard the gunshots," he said.

"I walk in my house and my dog was dead."

Wadden said he saw what he believes was a silver Honda Civic speeding away but he couldn't see who was inside.

Derek Hogan, the defence lawyer for Gary Hennessey, pointed out that, in his statement to police, Wadden said there were two men inside the home — not three. 

"These guys had just came to my house and shot my dog," Wadden said, adding there was a lot running through his mind.

Can't ID suspects

Neither Wadden nor a friend who was there that night could identify the men who kicked in the door.

Abdifatah Mohamed, who is representing himself, asked each witness the same question: "Do you recognize anyone in this courtroom from that night?"

Each person answered with, "No."

One witness who was in the house with Wadden went go far as to say, "It wasn't none of these guys," when referencing the prisoner's box where three of the accused sit.

Mohamed, Nippard and Hennessey are in custody. Donahue is not.

About the Author

Ariana Kelland

Reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.