A FOURTEEN-year-old girl bravely confronted two masked thugs who sneaked into her Carlisle home and attacked her brother with a hammer.

The teenager’s ordeal continued when she was attacked after she forced the men out of her home in Currock and she followed them as they tried to flee, to help police catch them.

At the city’s crown court, the two men involved were jailed.

Liam Ford, 26, admitted affray, assaulting the young boy with a hammer, possessing Valium, ecstasy, and cocaine, and assaulting a police officer. He was jailed for four years and two months.

Ryan Fraser, 19, admitted affray and was jailed for 20 months. Brendan Burke, prosecuting, said the men were attempting to “tax” - or extract money - from the family.

At 9pm, on January 3, they got into the family’s home, appearing in the living room, their faces hidden - Ford’s by a home-made balaclava; and Fraser’s by a pulled-up jumper pulled hiding his face.

In the living room, they confronted the boy, Ford asking: “Where’s your drugs and money?”

“Not surprisingly,” said Mr Burke, “he said he didn’t have any drugs or money. He was then hit on the chest by Mr Ford with a hammer.” The assault left a hammer-shaped bruise on the boy’s torso.

His sister was upstairs, helping her mother but, hearing noises, she came downstairs to investigate. She was confronted by the defendants on their way up the stairs. “She blocked their way, and told them they were not getting any further,” said Mr Burke. “

Ford threatened her with the hammer. She feared she was about to be hit. The barrister said: “She acted with courage, blocking them. She wouldn’t let them past.”

The girl jostled the pair - affected by drugs and alcohol - out of the house. But they got back inside, dragging the girl into the front garden.

Ford again attacked the girl as she followed them from the house. Later, Ford attacked a police officer who arrested him. It took six officers to subdue him.

Kim Whittestone, for Ford, of Henderson Road, Currock, said he had summed up his position this way: “I fell into a hole and there was no ladder big enough to get me out.” His mental health had suffered, and he spiralled into using drink and drugs. “These offences were wholly out of character,” added the barrister.

Josh Bowker, for Fraser, of Low Meadow, Belle Vue, said losing his job led him into using drugs and alcohol. “He’s remorseful, and embarrassed by his actions,” he said, adding that the teenager’s actions were also out of character.

As he passed sentence, Judge James Adkin said Ford showed no remorse for attacking the police officer, and he said he would have bitten off the officer’s nose if he could. He noted also that the children were traumatised. The judge imposed a restraining order banning either defendant from ever contacting the victims.