A MOTHER told a jury how she thought she was going to get shot when masked men stormed their house armed with guns.

Ashleigh Lowe recalled how she arrived home in The Drive, Hullbridge, with family and friends to be met by two men in balaclavas armed with guns.

The court heard during the incident, in March last year, Tim Smith, 53, a friend of Mrs Lowe’s, was shoved by one suspect, causing him to fall to the ground and suffer a fatal head injury.

Mr Smith’s wife Lesley Pighini, Mrs Lowe’s husband Glen Mottram and her daughter, who was 14 at the time, were also present.

Speaking from behind screens at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, Mrs Lowe said: “Initially when I got out of the car, I thought someone was messing about.

“Quite quickly I realised they weren’t when I saw what they were holding.

“The two men both had balaclavas on and dark clothing. They looked like they were carrying a gun each. I was petrified.

“I thought I was going to get shot. At that point, I just wanted to get my daughter inside.

“I grabbed her and pulled her into the kitchen. I saw Glen come through the front door followed by the two men but I didn’t see where Tim was.

“The men came into the hall and said something like ‘is there a safe in this house?’ and then ‘you know what we’re here for’ and Lesley was shouting ‘I think Tim is dead’.”

The jury heard how Mrs Lowe then saw Glen hand the men a bag which she said contained £5,000 before they ran off.

On cross-examination, defence barrister Richard Christie suggested that police claim there was an estimated £45,000 in the bag and that it was used by Glen for “drugs or money laundering” which she denied.

Mrs Lowe said: “No. There is no way there was £45,000 in that bag.”

She also told the court the cash was not kept in a bank account because she was claiming tax credits and did not want that to be affected.

Colin Garrod, 50, of Crowborough Road, Southend, and Andrew McVicar, 33, of Dewsgreen, Basildon, are both charged with the manslaughter of Tim Smith, the robbery of Mrs Lowe’s husband Glen Mottram and possession of an imitation firearm.

Jamie Caborn, 28, of Luncies Road, Basildon, faces a charge of being in possession of criminal property.

All three men deny all charges. The trial continues